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  • Connor Ewens

Let's Review: WWE Night of Champions 2023

It's time for our first of two yearly visits to the beautiful yet controversial city of Jeddah in Saudi Arabia. I think this is the most excited I've been for a Saudi show. We'll be crowning a new World Heavyweight Champion, we have a rematch between Brock Lesnar & Cody Rhodes and we should have the final chapter in the KO & Sami vs The Bloodline saga.


There's plenty more going on. A rematch between Asuka & Bianca Belair should be great, Trish Stratus vs Becky Lynch should be good, Rhea Ripley vs Natalya should be alright. Gunther vs Mustafa Ali could be a real dark horse for match of the night. I do wonder why the don't book Mansoor for these shows anymore. Sure he hasn't been a prominent part of the roster but recently he's been really entertaining with the Maximum Male Models, plus he's always SUPER over. Nevertheless, WWE have been putting on solid shows in Saudi since 2021 (took them long enough) and this could be the best yet. Let's take this over to the Middle East. دعونا نراجع.


May 27th 2023- WWE Night of Champions


-We have a nice voice over intro from Triple H, quite fitting for the show. Our commentary team is Michael Cole (Smackdown) and Corey Graves (Raw)


Seth Rollins vs AJ Styles for the WWE World Heavyweight Championship

They really complicated the tournament for this title for no reason didn't they? A Raw exclusive title but they had qualifiers on Raw and Smackdown? I mean, I'll never say no to a Rollins vs Styles match but why is a Smackdown star competing for a Raw title? It made this match feel really predictable. There was a report that WWE were "hesitant" to put the gold on Rollins, which I call bullshit on. That's either fabricated or it's an intentional leak to throw some doubt into the finish. Either way, I'm sure this will be great.


Both guys get positive responses from the crowd but Rollins especially gets some noise during his entrance. A testament to how over and how good Rollins has been for the last year and change. Rollins pumps up the crowd with his conducting skills until Styles dropkicks him. They exchange holds and look for control, Rollins hits a neckbreaker then a running knee. Rollins hits the black magic kick. They continue to go back and forth. Styles hits a knee drop, Rollins hits a flatliner. Styles slips out of a superplex and drops Rollins on the top. A nice suplex from Styles into the turnbuckle. They exchange strikes, chops & forearms. Styles hit a beautiful backflip reverse DDT for an early contender for spot of the night. Rollins hits a buckle bomb followed by a frog splash for a nearfall. Styles hits an Ushigoroshi, which always looks so painful to take. AJ goes for a super Styles Clash but Rollins reverses into a hurricanrana. Rollins hits a reverse superplex, holding on for a reverse suplex. Very nice. The action spills outside, AJ nails Rollins in the apron with a brainbuster, it looked brutal. Rollins prevents a phenomenal forearm and hits a suicide dive, but he's clutching at the knee. Styles immediately goes for his calf crusher but Rollins escapes. We get a nice exchange of strikes and reversals, Rollins goes for a pedigree but the leg is hurt. Styles hits a pedigree of his own for a nearfall. Rollins reverses the phenomenal forearm with a superkick, followed by a pedigree and a stomp to win. Triple H comes out to present the title and raise Rollins' hand.


Of course this was a great match, these two aren't capable of having bad matches. They threw a lot of their big moves early and proceeded to have a clinic together. This was a very competitive match with a lot of back and forth. They told a good story late on with Styles targeting the knee of Rollins, who sold it well in the calf crusher and when attempting offence. It was a predictable winner but a deserving moment for Seth who has been on top of his game for years now. I'm looking forward to what his title reign will bring.


Seth Rollins defeats AJ Styles via pinfall to become World Heavyweight Champion (20:40)

4/5


Becky Lynch vs Trish Stratus

Trish is pushing 50 and she still looks amazing. I'm very much enjoying the return of heel Trish. She cut one hell of a promo which had some throwback lines to a promo she did in 2005. Great work. The feud goes back to pre-Wrestlemania when Trish returned to aid Lita & Lynch against Damage CTRL. After the faces were victorious, Trish turned heel on them both and Lynch was taken off TV. Trish calls herself the best ever and refuses to be anyones sidekick. Lynch came back, they had a scrap, and now we have their match.


Becky's 3D graphic looks horrendous. Why do they continue to do these? They all suck, the live audience don't see them and us watching at home really don't care for them. The Roman Reigns one is also laughable. What doesn't look awful however is Becky's Kill Bill-esque attire. The yellow jumpsuit and even the hair screams Uma Thurman vibes. I love it. Becky starts hot firing punches. They fight outside then head back into the ring. Trish hits some kicks. Trish hits a tornado DDT. She continues to use underhanded tactics, pulling at the face and the hair. Trish hits a Lou Thesz press followed by a neckbreaker. Lynch gets back in it with some strikes and an exploder suplex. Middle rope leg drop for a 2 count. They fight outside again, Trish hits a headscissors sending Becks into the post. In the ring, Trish hits a spinebuster followed by a top rope headscissors which looked a little rough. Lynch counters Stratisfaction into a Diamond Dust. Lynch reverses a hurricanrana into a Boston crab which looked cool. Trish hits a Chick Kick for a nearfall. Becky has her in the disarmer but Trish pulls the hair to escape. Lynch hits a Manhandle slam but Trish gets a foot in the ropes. Trish is looks under the ring but Lynch throws her back in. From under the ring appears Zoey Starks! She plants Becky with a Z360 knee when the referee isn't looking and throws her to Trish. Trish hits Stratusfaction to win.


This was a good match. It started off a bit underwhelming but they worked well to put on a compelling contest. Unfortunately Trish isn't as good as she once was, but of course that would be the case. She still tried hard and they worked a solid match. I'm very intrigued to see how the partnership between Trish & Zoey Starks develops. I'm all for it, having Trish around is a huge rub for Starks and will definitely help elevate her in the women's division. Also, a screwy finish leaves room for a rematch down the line. We may even see Lynch & Lita vs Trish & Starks.


Trish Stratus wins via pinfall (14:50)

3/5


-we see Mustafa Ali visit Mecca in a really wholesome segment. What else is wholesome is that he still wears his 205Live tracksuit. RIP 205Live.


GUNTHER (c) vs Mustafa Ali for the Intercontinental Championship

Yes it's another seemingly predictable match but I don't mind. Mustafa has large support in Saudi Arabia, plus I'm happy for Gunther to never lose the Intercontinental Championship anytime soon. He's been consistently one of the best performers in WWE since his debut in NXT. There isn't much build here, Mustafa won a battle royal for a match against Gunther and that's pretty much it.


Mustafa Ali gets loud crowd reactions here. Gunther as always has an excellent, regal entrance. Ali avoids Gunther and fires off some strikes and leg kicks. Gunther finally gets him with a body slam and some brutal chops. Gunther hits another slam into a Boston crab, then into an STF. Ali is on the apron, tries for a springboard but Gunther just BOOTS him into the ether. Gunther then launches him into the turnbuckle, brutal. Ali fights back in ring, with a neckbreaker and a powerbomb. He hits the 450 splash for a great nearfall. Gunther murders Ali with clotheslines and chops. Ali reverses out of a powerbomb into a tornado DDT. Gunther dodges the 450, follows with a huge dropkick and a powerbomb to win.


This goes less than 10 minutes but they make use of their time brilliantly. A good match with a simple David vs Goliath story. Gunther looked like a killer with his offence, especially that big boot that YEETED Ali to the floor. Mustafa sold well but also fired back with some good offence and for a split second teased maybe being able to dethrone the Ring General. But, it was never meant to be.


GUNTHER wins via pinfall (8:35)

3.25/5


-Owens & Zayn cut a passionate promo about how today is their day and they will remain the tag champions.


Bianca Belair (c) vs Asuka for the Raw Women's Championship

They need to rename the Women's titles soon for crying out loud. I'm glad Bianca and Rhea didn't just trade titles because that's deplorable booking, but having your Raw Women's Champion on Smackdown & vice versa is incredibly dumb and nonsensical. This feud has continued since Wrestlemania with focus on Asuka using the mist to blind Bianca.


I crapped all over the 3D graphics earlier but I'll admit the Bianca Belair graphic is pretty sweet. Belair looks for control quickly with a shoulder tackle. Asuka reverses a monkey flip with a dropkick. Belair fires off with a dropkick of her own. Belair kicks Asuka to the outside. She follows but Asuka grabs her hair and throws her into the steps. Asuka hits a German suplex followed by a knee. Belair hits a jawbreaker. Asuka counters a suplex and hits a clothesline. Belair escapes a submission but Asuka brings her down with her own hair. Belair fires off strikes then a blockbuster. Belair firmly takes control with a dropkick, a vertical suplex and a backbreaker. Belair hits a handstand springboard moonsault. Asuka fires off kicks and regains control with a missile dropkick. Asuka targets the arm, Belair powers her up with a spinebuster. Asuka goes for submission again. They exchange pinfalls before going to the floor. This time Belair sends Asuka into the steps. They slug it out, Asuka grabbing at the hair again. Belair punches her in the corner, the referee tries to break it up, Asuka tries to spit the mist but Bianca dodges. She's pissed, she goes for the KOD but Asuka dodges and goes for the arm. Bianca hits a powerbomb. Referee backs Belair away from Asuka in the ropes, who wipes the mist liquid from her mouth all over her fingers. Bianca goes for the KOD and Asuka rubs her mist-stained fingers into the eyes. She delivers a head kick and she gets a 1-2-3! New champion!


This was a real good match, not on par with their original bout at Wrestlemania but still very enjoyable. These two have good chemistry together. I liked that Asuka used any possible way to gain and maintain control over Bianca, especially using the hair. The finish was unique, I don't think I've ever seen the mist be used in that way before. I was getting a bit bored of the reign of Belair, I'm very happy to see Asuka as World champion again. I honestly didn't expect this result. I hope that she finally gets her chance to have a dominant, main roster title reign.


Asuka wins the title via pinfall (15:00)

3.5/5


Rhea Ripley (c) vs Natalya for the Smackdown Women's Championship

This feud is seemingly built around Rhea wanting to end the career of Natalya. She is a 20+ year veteran in her 40s so it wouldn't shock me if she is planning on moving to a part time schedule. It is also Natalya's birthday today (as of writing), happy birthday to Nattie. Before the bell rang, Dominic distracted Natalya, giving Rhea Ripley opportunity to ambush Natalya and squash her for a quick victory. I'm choosing to believe that this is going somewhere. Natalya was ambushed so she wasn't given a fair shot so surely a rematch is on the cards. Also they teased Natalya's career coming to an end, which could play into the story going forward. If this was a quick squash for the hell of it then this was a waste of a segment. Hopefully it's not.


Rhea Ripley retains via pinfall (1:10)

1/5


-An interview with the new Heavyweight Champion who says he's ready to appear every week on Raw with champion things on his mind.


Cody Rhodes vs Brock Lesnar

Another rematch, one I'm surprised doesn't have a stipulation. After suffering a loss to Cody at Backlash, Brock Lesnar got a small level of revenge attacking him in a qualifier in the Heavyweight title tournament. Lesnar has continued to target Rhodes, including "breaking" the arm of Cody with his brutal kimura lock. Triple H tried to get the match cancelled but Cody refused to do so. Now, obviously Cody wouldn't be really allowed to wrestle with a broken arm. That's why I think this should have been unsanctioned to add some legitimacy to the story.


Even though he's a heel Brock gets loud cheers. Cody gets the loudest reaction of the night. The crowd not only screaming the "WOAH!" in his song, but just singing most of the words. It was an electric moment. I admit again that the 3D graphic for Cody is pretty cool. Fine, not all of them suck, but most of them. Cody is donning a cast on his arm which we're told has titanium in it. Cody is hesitant to lock up and Brock just takes control quickly with shoulder tackles to the ribs. Lesnar hits 3 suplexes, Michael Cole does a great job selling the damage Cody is taking throughout this match. Cody uses his cast to strike Lesnar out the ring, followed with a suicide dive. Cody hits some double axehandles, a disaster kick and a Cody cutter for a 2. Cody hits two crossroads. He goes for a third but Lesnar locks in the kimura lock. He holds it in for a long time as Cody screams and claws for the rope. Cody tries to turn it into a pinfall, like what happened at Backlash but Lesnar moves back into control. Cody manages to get to the ropes. Lesnar goes for an F5 but Cody reverses into a third crossroads! 1-2-no!. Lesnar hits an F5 for a nearfall. He locks in the kimura lock again, Cody passes out due to the pain and the referee calls for the bell.


This match is just under 10 minutes, and from a read it doesn't sound like too much happened. But this was a brilliant telling of a story. Brock was a bloodthirsty killer looking for revenge. Cody is the fan favourite looking to once again overcome odds. Both wrestlers as well as the referee and commentary do an excellent job of really selling the match and damage being done. The kimura spots especially were great. I imagine we're setting up a rematch either at Money in the Bank or Summerslam, most definitely with a stipulation like Last Man Standing or similar.


Brock Lesnar wins via referee stoppage (9:40)

3.75/5


-Some announcements for upcoming TV. A Fatal 4 way will crown new Women's tag champions, as well as qualifiers for the Money in the Bank matches, and a celebration of Roman Reigns' 1000 day reign as Universal Champion, the 1000th day is actually today.


Kevin Owens & Sami Zayn (c) vs Roman Reigns & Solo Sikoa for the Undisputed Tag Team Championships

This should be the end of a chapter and the beginning of a new one in the long-lasting Bloodline story. Following losing the titles at Wrestlemania, there has been trouble in the Bloodline camp between Roman & Solo, and the Uso's. Tensions are rising after Solo & Jey got into it at Backlash but seemingly buried the hatchet. In the build up to this show, it's Roman & Jimmy who are at each others throats with Jey trying to play peacekeeper. Disappointed in his cousins, Roman declared he and Solo would go after KO & Sami which left a sour taste in the Uso's mouth.


The Bloodline enter first without the Uso's alongside. Kevin Owens is out next, soon followed by Sami Zayn who is donning a thobe and recieves a huge ovation from the crowd. It's great to see how happy Sami was to go to Saudi Arabia and visit Mecca. He wasn't able to go in the past due to his Syrian heritage and the issues between Syria and Saudi Arabia. Now that relations have improved between the nations, Zayn is here and he is over. Wiseman Paul Heyman does a great job as usual introducing his Tribal Chief & Solo. Sami Zayn introduces himself and KO in Arabic which is a nice touch.


Owens & Reigns start but Zayn wants in. After taunting by Zayn & the crowd, Reigns is frustrated and tags out to Solo. Solo overpowers Zayn with big strikes but Zayn holds his own. Owens tags in and brawls with Solo but is downed by a big uppercut. Zayn tags in the the BFFs use soke good tandem offence to take down Solo. Reigns comes in and decks Owens, distracting Zayn and Solo strikes him down. Solo slams Zayn and headbutts him. Now Reigns wants to come in. Reigns controls with a suplex. Zayn tries to get shots in but Reigns floors him with an uppercut. Zayn fires chops but Reigns keeps dropping him. Reigns trash talking is great, he says "so you think you're the Nature Boy now?" which got a laugh out of me. Solo tags in and continues to dissect Zayn, he superkicks Owens off the apron. Zayn fights back with a tornado DDT and manages a tag. Reigns tags in too, Owens is fired up and takes the fight to Reigns, beating him to the outside. He follows with a running clothesline and a senton. Superkick to Reigns in the ring. Owens takes Solo off the apron but Reigns regains control here. Owens avoids a superman punch with a pop-up powerbomb for a nearfall, then a frog splash for a nearfall. Reigns hits the superman punch for a nearfall. Owens hits a stunner, Reigns bounces off the rope and hits a spear for a double down, great spot.


Zayn & Solo both tag in and exchange. Zayn jump over Solo and clotheslines him out. Zayn hits a dive onto him. Zayn hits a Blue Thunder Bomb for a 2 count. Zayn runs for a Helluva kick but eats a superkick. Zayn dodges a Samoan Spike for an exploder suplex. He hits the Hulleva kick! 1-2-no! Reigns breaks it up. He trash talks and attacks Zayn. The referee tries to get him out. Reigns goes for a spear, Zayn dodges and the referee eats it instead. Zayn hits a superman punch but his spear attempt is interrupted by Reigns' superman punch. The Owens runs in with a spear! Owens and Reigns fight outside and Owens looks to put him through the announce tables. Out come the Uso's! They attack Owens and save Reigns from the attack. They go in to superkick Zayn twice. They go for a double superkick but they hit Solo by accident! The crowd are losing it. Reigns looks PISSED. The Uso's look at each other like "oh shit". Reigns shouts at Jimmy before shoving him. Jey tries to calm Reigns, who pushes him too. Reigns turns around and Jimmy superkicks Reigns!!! Holy shit! The crowd go mental. Jey is in shock and shouts why at his brother. Jimmy says it's about them now, not him. He is doing what Jey should have done a long time ago. Jimmy superkicks Reigns again!! The Uso's walk up the ramp, Owens hits Solo with a stunner, then a Helluva kick from Zayn for a 3 count. Some great imagery as Reigns looks despondent in defeat and KO & Zayn stand tall over him.


The match was great but the storytelling was even better. Roman Reigns has the best facial expressions in wrestling today, if not him it's Sami. Owens & Sami get a clean victory over the Bloodline to seemingly draw a line under that chapter, hopefully moving on to a new feud, maybe Imperium? The Bloodline implosion continues to be the hottest angle in modern WWE. Jey is again stuck in the middle but surely this time he cannot choose Reigns over his own brother. Or maybe he will. Whatever happens its going to be so juicy and I love all of the drama.


Kevin Owens & Sami Zayn retain via pinfall (26:25)

4.25/5


Overall- 65%

A very good show, as expected. Both the first and last matches were excellent and everything else in between was good. The Rhea vs Natalya match was peculiar, not too damaging depending on what happens next but it pretty much confirmed we'll probably never see Natalya as a world champion ever again.


MOTN- Kevin Owens & Sami Zayn vs Roman Reigns & Solo Sikoa


Thanks for reading I hope you enjoyed the show if you watched it. Expect a review of NXT Battleground as well as AEW Double or Nothing over the course of the next few days. NJPW Dominion is also in a weeks time so my next few articles will be dedicated to reviews. Until next time, see yaaaa!

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