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Pantoja’s WWE Night of Champions 2023 Review

May 28, 2023 | Posted by Kevin Pantoja
WWE Night of Champions Seth Rollins wins World Heavyweight Title Image Credit: BT Sport, WWE
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Pantoja’s WWE Night of Champions 2023 Review  

WWE Night of Champions

May 27th, 2023 | Jeddah Super Dome in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia

I’ve always liked the Night of Champions PPV name and concept.

World Heavyweight Championship Tournament Finals: AJ Styles vs. Seth Rollins

Their Money in the Bank match in 2019 was tremendous (****½). Seth’s gear gave me King from Tekken vibes. The crowd was mostly behind him. The early stages here felt exactly the way they should as two veterans had a feeling out process and neither was out to make the first mistake. It was Seth who slipped up first as AJ escaped a superplex attempt and hit his own suplex into the corner. From there, things picked up including a pretty Seth frog splash and AJ busting out the moonsault DDT for the first time in forever. You could tell that AJ was putting in the effort tonight and that’s great because we don’t always get it from him at this point (which I totally understand). Seth altering his signature spot to be inverted was a sick change of pace. AJ’s response was to hit a damn Brainbuster on the apron, showing that these guys were out to steal the show. On a tope suicida, Seth tweaked his knee, giving AJ a target for the Calf Crusher. Seth did the Curb Stomp to the hand down the stretch but it wasn’t clear enough to get the reaction it needed. Seth survived a Pedigree but his next Curb Stomp attempt saw his leg give out. His next attempt, which came after a Pedigree and selling of the knee, connected and won him the title in 20:39. AJ brought his A game tonight and Seth was his usual great self. A hell of a match and Seth finally gets back on top of a brand the way he deserves. [****]

Becky Lynch vs. Trish Stratus

Maybe Seth and Becky are leaving Saudi Arabia before everyone so their matches are wrapping up quickly. And while I could see the Kill Bill vibes for Becky’s gear, it also sensed Law from Tekken which lines up if Seth is King. Becky opened this with a straight right hand that put Trish on her ass. Of course, heel Trish knew how to weather the storm, take control, and talk shit throughout. Trish is so good at being a heel. Becky started to rally after her pant leg rolled up and the crowd saw some ankle. That’s it, she’s getting fined. One of the wildest things is seeing Trish do new moves. She could just play the hits but she did a new version of a headscissors that we’ve never seen from her. Becky also didn’t rest on her laurels, hitting Diamond Dust at one point. I liked Becky countering the Stratusphere into a Boston Crab was cool. The closing stretch only got better with time as Becky survived the Chick Kick, they traded shots, and Trish got to the ropes on the Manhandle Slam pin attempt. The finish saw Zoey Stark pop out from under the ring to hit Becky with her finisher, followed by Trish hitting Stratusfaction to win in 14:52. I don’t care much for Zoey Stark but a pairing with Trish would do her wonders. I loved the match itself as Trish is an ageless wonder. [****]

WWE Intercontinental Championship: Gunther [c] vs. Mustafa Ali

Ali was way over with the crowd, creating a fun environment. Right from the start, Ali was getting abused and the first Gunther chop annihilated him. Ali got his ass kicked for the majority of this until it was time to make the rally. That included an impressive powerbomb and a 450 splash that earned him a near fall. Alas, that pissed off Gunther, who WRECKED him with two lariats that turned Ali inside out. Gunther grew more frustrated that Ali wouldn’t stay down. Ali got one more hope spot on a tornado DDT but then he got cut down by a big dropkick. Gunther added a powerbomb to retain in 8:32. Gunther doesn’t miss. An efficient use of good storytelling and a classic big man/little man match. [***½]

WWE Raw Women’s Championship: Bianca Belair [c] vs. Asuka

Their WrestleMania match was great (****) though their feuds aren’t really hitting. The idea here is that Asuka is now a heel and more aggressive because of it. Indeed, Asuka’s first sustained run came after using Bianca’s hair to pull her into the steel steps. She kept going back to the hair whenever she wanted to keep things going her way. Bianca got going with a string of impressive offensive moves. Her braid came out loose too so that long hair was kind of wild. Her offense always looks good from spinebusters to moonsaults. Things got heated as the match spilled outside and the women were nearly both counted out. The shots continued inside with the referee having to get in between them. Bianca’s punches there were the first thing of hers to not look good. She avoided the mist but got trapped in the armbar. Bianca survived only for Asuka to spit the mist on her hand and put them in Bianca’s eyes to break up the KOD, adding a kick that won her the title in a shocking upset at the 14:57 mark. That match didn’t quite hit for me but I really liked that ending and the result. It’ll be interesting to see where Bianca goes from here and Asuka as a top heel champion is sick. [***¼]

WWE Smackdown Women’s Championship: Rhea Ripley [c] vs. Natalya

It’s time for Natalya’s annual title shot. A distraction from Dominik helped Rhea get the jump on Natalya. Rhea never let up and won with Riptide in 1:06. You love to see it. [NR]

Brock Lesnar vs. Cody Rhodes

The story here is that Cody has a kayfabe broken arm. This got off to the usual Brock start as he dominated and threw Cody around a bunch. However, once Cody got in some shots with his titanium-plated arm cast, Brock was stunned and on his heels. Cody started in with Cross Rhodes but before he could hit a third, Brock countered into the Kimura. He was trapped there for a while and faded to the point where I thought he passed out and lost but he fired up again. Cody fought out and hit another Cross Rhodes but Brock kicked out. Cody also survived an F5 but when Brock put the Kimura back on, Cody passed out and the referee called for the bell in 9:33. That was very good for what it was and I’m glad they didn’t overdo the finisher false finishes. [***¾]

WWE Undisputed Tag Team Championship: Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn [c] vs. Roman Reigns and Solo Sikoa

Sami Zayn was WILDLY over and came out in traditional garb. He was emotional after being banned from these shows for years. Heyman did the intro for the challengers while Sami did the one for the champs in Arabic. Roman got flustered with the very pro-Sami crowd to start so he bailed and let Solo handle his business. KO fared better against Solo than Sami did, who also ran into trouble when Roman goaded him into getting beaten up. That gave us the Sami heat segment which of course led to the Owens hot tag that was filled with fire and energy. The heat segment lasted the right amount of time, nearly going too long but not actually doing so. From that point on, the match was truly something special with great back and forth and close calls without ever going overboard. You knew the storytelling stuff was going to get taken to the next level when Roman accidentally Speared the referee. The pop for Sami hitting a Superman Punch was LOUD. As KO looked to put Roman through the announce table, the Usos arrived to jump him. However, things hit a snag when inside, they hit Sami with several superkicks before accidentally hitting Solo with one. Roman was furious and got in their faces, shoving Jey. He turned to Jimmy who superkicked him to a thunderous ovation. When Jey questioned him, Jimmy shouted “I’M DOING WHAT YOU SHOULD’VE DONE A LONG TIME AGO” and added another superkick to Roman. The PTSD Jey clearly had flashing back to the matches with Roman in 2020 was evident. A stunned Solo was left alone inside to fall to a Stunner and Helluva Kick in 26:27. A fantastic main event with great tag team wrestling capped by an emotional huge storyline ending. [****½]

The final score: review Very Good
The 411
Not enough people are talking about it because they just want to be negative about WWE but the company is firing on all cylinders when it comes to their PLEs. This was another tremendous show where basically everything worked.