WWE Night of Champions (5.27.23) review
May 27, 2023
We’re in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia for purely sporting reasons and not because Saudi Arabia are trying to sportswash their international reputation by throwing money at companies with no morale backbone (like F1 and WWE), Cristiano Ronaldo and golfers….at the Jeddah Super Dome, brother. Hosts are Michael Cole and Corey Graves.
This does feel like a proper PPV rather than one of those ‘let’s throw a bunch of wacky shit at the wall to please the Saudis’ kind of show.
WWE World (Midcard) Heavyweight Championship
Seth Rollins vs. AJ Styles
I get the criticism of this belt. It would look a lot better if the central focus was on a globe with the ugly WWE icon much smaller, as it used to be when the World part was more important than the WWE part. AJ is now 45 years old and has only returned this month after missing four months of action. This is AJ Styles’ eighth year as a WWE Superstar. Seth has weird shoulderpads, which make him look more like a skeksis than usual.
Seth Rollins is very overrated and a lot of the stuff he does is dancey, pre-planned and choreographed in a painfully obvious way. The Saudis like him, which should tell you everything you need to know. Both vultures that feed on human misery. The match is patchy with lots of spots that look bad. I don’t like ‘sequences’ that are so obviously ‘sequences’ that the commentator refers to it as a “sequence”. Especially if it’s really convoluted. They run a leg injury angle on Seth. They show several replays where his right leg takes all the impact on a dive. Corey even says “the right knee” and then Rollins sells the left leg. He continues to sell it hitting a Pedigree and the Stomp finishes. The leg stuff was inconsistent. They could have split the Pedigree/Stomp spots up so Rollins could actually sell that injury. Cole bills this as “incredible”. I thought it was OK. They tried. ***
Trish Stratus vs. Becky Lynch
Trish is only 2 years older than AJ Styles. She was barely 30 when she retired from the full time schedule. I love how they go from VT of Trish with her tits all hanging out and then we’re live in Jeddah and its full body suit time. Some chap in the back furiously wanking because he can see her neck. Trish leads the match and Becky looks out of sorts.
Her bumps and her general movement look very poor. As the match progresses, Trish gets steadily worse, being dragged down to Becky’s level. Mercy would be a short match and that doesn’t happen. Zoey Stark interferes and Trish wins with Stratusfaction. This was long and bad. Becks gets her nose busted again as she face planted the bump at the finish. Another in a long string of mistimed stuff. This had no business being 15 minutes long.
WWE Intercontinental Championship
Gunther (c) vs. Mustafa Ali
What is it with this company and Nazi stuff? It’s like they can’t tell the difference between the culture of a country and the stereotypical culture of a country. This should be a squash, given the difference in stature within the company of both guys and how Gunther’s offence is perceived. Surprisingly, the powerful white colonialist gimmick doesn’t go over well in Saudi Arabia. They do a good job of giving Ali believable near falls. As a result the match is incredible fun. It’s so simple yet so well executed. Shotgun dropkick sets up the powerbomb for Gunther to retain. I enjoyed this. Turned up, did the business, got out quick. ***¼.
WWE RAW Women’s Championship
Bianca Belair (c) vs. Asuka
This is a rematch from WrestleMania but Asuka has been a bit of a dick about losing there and misted poor Bianca right in her face. Bianca’s selling of that was hilarious. Asuka does NOT look motivated here. She’s lazy in ways that I’ve never seen her be lazy. Not bothering to get into position or sell in transitions. Very low impact variants on her spots. There’s a lot of heavy fatigue overselling. The match does dramatically improve in the second half when the focus is on close contact and countering. There’s an argument that the constrictive clothing the women are forced to wear in Saudi Arabia can’t help their movement. Asuka mists her own hand, rubs the mist into Bianca’s face to block the KOD and kicks Bianca in the head to win the strap! I had no idea that was a title switch. Not sure why they didn’t just do this title swap at WrestleMania, where it would have felt more important. They had a better match at Mania too. I guess it was designed to beat the record title run of Becky Lynch. They have a weird thing about ‘records’ nowadays.
WWE Smackdown Women’s Championship
Rhea Ripley (c) vs. Natalya
I know Natalya thinks she’s important to WWE history, but this should definitely be a squash. Nattie is now 41 and surely WWE are thinking about transitioning her to some sort of backstage/non wrestling role. She probably thinks she can still go.
I see Rhea as a generational talent. The main ‘superstar’, alongside Bianca, that WWE has produced since the arrival of the Four Horsewomen. Nattie gets NOTHING here and Rhea beats her with Riptide. Good.
Brock Lesnar vs. Cody Rhodes
Since their last encounter Brock has managed to break Cody’s arm. Considering he bullied Rhodes and lost to a fluke pin that should, surely, be enough for a Lesnar win here.
Cody uses the cast as a weapon, Cowboy Boy Orton style. It’s a pretty good storyline. Surely, that’s illegal though? Brock gets the kimura and, again, SURELY this is the finish. Remember Talladega Nights? “Break it, Frenchie”. Just say you like crepes Cody! It’s not worth it. The match gets incredibly dumb as we go to Mania finisher kick-out territory. Brock gets the kimura again and Cody passes out from the pain. Should have ripped the cast off mate. This wasn’t even as much fun as Backlash and far dumber. If you’ve got a BROKEN ARM it is entirely acceptable to tap out to a monster heel guys. They could hade made this into an interesting program with Rhodes simply unable to overcome the monster but they had to rehab him and win the first match because of their dumb Mania booking.
WWE Tag Team Championship
Sami Zayn & Kevin Owens (c) vs. Roman Reigns & Solo Sikoa
Roman hasn’t taken a job in 3.5 years. Sami is over in Arab countries because his family is from Syria and he speaks Arabic. Him introducing him and KO in Arabic is pretty cool but I like Roman’s whole “WTF are you saying” face. It reminds me of Micah Richards saying he speaks Italian and Big Rom, who speaks 7 languages, speaking to him in fluent Italian. “Scusi?” The crowd are on fire for this, which is great news and while I think they’re dragging the Bloodline out the issues between Roman and the Usos and, obviously, with Zayn are the driving force behind that heat.
It’s interesting to me that the best ‘wrestling’ section of the match is Owens vs. Reigns. I can’t help but think if they could heat Kevin up that would be a hell of a title match. Solo is an obvious weak spot. He’s limited but especially compared to the others.
They work in a bad ref bump. Most ref bumps are bad tbf. This one sets up the Usos run in, which would be a DQ otherwise but the ref is down for ages. The Superkick miscue on Solo is dumb, obvious and not well set up. Roman doesn’t take it well and Jimmy Uso superkicks Roman! One would assume that’s Jimmy done in the Bloodline with Jey left to choose. Match was more storyline than wrestling but there were some cool bits and pieces with Roman and Owens.
In terms of rating, it’s a tough one. I did really enjoy the match and liked how over it was compared to the shitty tag at Backlash. We’ll go ***¼