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Night of Champions 2023 recap & reactions: The Superkicks heard ‘round the world

Jimmy & Jey reach the point of no return, Seth Rollins walks away with gold, and a stunning new women’s champion

Long Kiss Goodnight

“I’m doing what you should’ve done a long time ago.”

Jimmy Uso never fully bought in to the Tribal Chief hype. That’s important because without that knowledge, everything that transpired during the Undisputed Tag Team Championship match at Night of Champions doesn’t mean as much. And you’ll go cross-eyed at everything I write after this sentence.

I understand the criticism from corners of that Roman Reigns’ matches follow a pattern that becomes tiresome. I feel you but I can’t reach you. And the reason I can’t is because that’s where the drama comes into play. The reason Roman Reigns’ matches feel bigger than everyone else’s—including the newly crowned World Heavyweight champ—is the story and character work. There’s always a place in wrestling for cats working their butts off in the ring and doing move on top of move.

But drama brought WWE to the big kids’ table in the 1980s and made them bigger than Monday Night Football in the late ‘90s. Think about that for a moment. WWE was, at one time, as big or bigger than the NFL. And it wasn’t because Steve Austin, The Rock, or Mankind gave everyone 5 star matches on a regular basis. They, along with a host of others from that era, understood what everyone involved in this Bloodline saga understands:

Human drama matters more than anything else.

That’s why as soon as Jimmy & Jey Uso hit the ring, I quoted Mr. Burns.

For a minute, it looked like some invisible hand might confirm Sami Zayn’s fear that no matter what, Roman finds a way. The Usos buried KO under an announce table and dispatched Sami. And in a callback to WrestleMania when Solo Sikoa almost Spiked his brother simply because he showed up in the wrong place at the wrong time, Jimmy & Jey almost Super Kicked their little brother off this earth.

And that, dear reader, is when the brown stuff hit the fan.

Little things count. The looks on their faces. The look on Paul Heyman’s face. The rage on Roman’s face. But while Jey looked distraught, Jimmy didn’t. Jimmy looked like he meant to do it. So when Roman got in their faces and yet again mushed Jimmy in his face, I knew the big Uce had a receipt waiting for his cousin.

The fact Roman put hands on Jey made that receipt even heftier, as Jimmy gave Roman the first of two Super Kicks heard ‘round the world. Jey, almost as shocked as I was at the fact we have a new Raw Women’s champ, asked his brother why. And that’s when Jimmy said those words up top that I felt in my bones.

Besides the fact that no man watches someone else get physical with their brother, Jimmy did the right thing. Jimmy always saw through Roman’s BS. That’s why the second Super Kick to Roman’s jaw hit harder than the first. Jimmy’s primal scream echoed throughout Jeddah and said more than any words. This percolated for months and Jimmy felt great finally letting it out.

That said, the brothers reached the point of no return. There’s no coming back from this. There’s no apologizing to the Tribal Chief, nor any talking it out as a misunderstanding. Jimmy and a visibly torn Jey left the arena, and presumably the country, fully understanding what this means.

Maybe Sami sparked something in Jimmy. Or perhaps it was Sami, combined with Roman’s overall crappiness that put him over the edge. Jey, however, now finds himself right where this whole thing started:

Stuck between his brother and his powerful cousin.

Jimmy’s out of the Bloodline because duh. Jey still has an out though since he didn’t actually do anything. I foresee Roman playing the same tune he did many moons ago as he puts two brothers against each other for his own amusement and gain.

Will we get a different result this time?

This Bloodline saga keeps getting better and I’m a little sad it’s almost at the end of its lifeline. There’s nothing like it in professional sports entertainment and we’re all better as a result.

Oh yeah, and KO & Sami retained while Sami gloated at the full blown fire his simple spark caused.

For my Hip Hop fans, Pusha T once warned Drake about a “surgical summer.” Someone better tell Roman the same thing.


The Champ

I wrote that WWE telegraphed Seth Rollins’ upcoming championship reign. Along with that, I said I wish they leaned less into making it so obvious.

In the end, they left that part to Seth and AJ Styles, who put on a very dope opening match for the World Heavyweight Championship. The start told a story in itself when AJ came out the gate like he prepped for a sneaker drop, which caught Seth completely off guard. There’s an argument, and commentary acknowledged said argument, that Seth spent too much time focused on Roman or extracurricular activities, and less on AJ. That brief moment spoke to that and apparently got Seth in the game.

From there, it was counter against counter and a battle of two guys who apparently scouted each other extremely well over the course of their respective careers.

The turning point, and you know we needed one, came when Seth tweaked his knee on a Suicide Dive. That either set up the window for an AJ win or Seth overcoming the odds. And they handled that pretty well until the ending.

Seth’s knee buckled on a Stomp attempt, highlighting how wrecked that knee was. Then, after a couple exchanges with AJ, Seth hits a Pedigree. He landed on that knee and seemingly further injured it. But then he went for the Stomp again—adrenaline I’m told—and three seconds later, we have an inaugural/new World Heavyweight champ.

My issue isn’t with Seth winning but just the knee angle injury. If the knee buckles under pressure from Seth lightly jogging towards AJ’s head, then feels more pain after Seth crashes down on it, then let’s go for a different finish than the Stomp. That’s a minor quibble with a matchup between two guys who clearly know what to do in the squared circle. But sometimes those minor things take something from good to great.

Oh Yeah

Let’s get this out the way: Trish Stratus looked good. For her first solo match in many moons, she looked like she never lost a step. The lone puzzling moment in the match came courtesy of Becky Lynch’s Boston Crab attempt. For some reason, The Man never sat down on the Crab yet Trish screamed in agony. I guess Becky’s grip is no joke and something worth crying over.

Trish even got some trash talking in as she dominated most of the match. The trash talking doesn’t surprise me but her dominance does. Not to say Becky got no offense in, obviously, but if they awarded matches on points, I had Trish ahead by quite a lot.

Here’s the story though: When Becky looked ready for a comeback, Zoey Stark came from under the ring apron and hit the former champ with a Z-360! Zoey tossed Becky back in the ring where Trish waited with a Stratusfaction.

Trish and Zoey left the ring together while Becky stood angry with possibly another broken nose. Trish did say that’s the only way she gets over...

All joking aside, I like this move. Trish helps Zoey get over, Zoey gets the rub working with Becky, and they possibly bring one former NXT star into the fold to make it even. And I’m intrigued about the kayfabe version these two joined forces. Good match with an intriguing ending.

Ali Bomaye

No, Mustafa Ali didn’t win. Yes, GUNTHER’s historic reign continues. But Ali looked incredible in a very big spot. I don’t think anyone watching expected any less but the man deserves his props. GUNTHER helped in the affair as well, selling for him and helping prove that, despite GUNTHER’s words, Ali does belong.

If this match had one purpose it was that, and it surpassed that with flying colors. For a moment, if only a small one, I thought Ali might pull off the impossible. The fact that both men got me that invested proves they did their jobs exceptionally well.

Came Back For You

Wow. I’m still stunned. That was my initial reaction when Asuka defeated Bianca Belair. Was it a clean win? Of course not. But it was incredibly creative. Asuka doused her fingers in mist and played dead when Bianca attempted a KOD. Asuka raked Bianca’s eyes with all that mist on her fingers, and that was it. A couple kicks to the back of Bianca’s head added insult to injury and we have a new Raw Women’s champ.

Shocking finish aside, I dug the match a whole lot. Asuka playing the heel brought a different side out of Bianca and they wrestled a very different match. Much more physical, more violent, and it felt a lot more personal.

I’m still stunned over the result. I liked it a lot but whew, I can’t believe they did it.

Also? Shoutout to Michael Cole for the Play Misty for Me reference. As a horror geek, I approve of any deep cut reference to 70s horror.


Well...Happy birthday to Nattie!

I barely got finished cleaning my laptop screen before the ref counted three.

I guess they signaled the squash job when Cole mentioned that Nattie didn’t put importance on wining the match. Well...yeah, she showed that.

Corey Graves saying Nattie let Dom distract her because she tried getting his number made me cackle. If that happened, then yeah. Rhea did the correct thing. Don’t mess with her man.

Monkey Barz

How in the world does a one-armed man beat any man, much less Brock Lesnar?! WWE gave us the answer in the form of a titanium cast apparently wrapped around Cody’s broken arm. And after a quick trip to Suplex City, Cody found his way back into the match thanks to that equalizer. He got in a few Cross Rhodes, had several hope spots, and even survived the Kimura Lock way longer than anyone expected.

And that’s the story, isn't it? Cody survives. He’s WWE’s Timex in that he takes a licking and keeps ticking.

But like the little Kitner boy in Jaws, the inevitable struck. Cody eventually fell to the Kimura Lock. No, he didn’t tap, he just passed out from pain and the ref had no choice.

Brock won the match and got Cody over something fierce. This was a fight and Cody surviving a fight, not a wrestling match, does wonders for him. But the look in Brock’s eye after the match says it’s not over. The Beast wants blood and the fact he didn’t break Cody’s arm more or get a tap out no doubt eats at the big man.

High drama, shocking story, and a fitting finish that paves the road ahead for both men.

Can you ask for more? Well, in theory, yeah. But that just sounds greedy. Brock is a beast, hence the title “Monkey Barz.”

I almost expect big things from WWE’s PLE’s these days. Lot of rhymes in that sentence.

Anyway, this show delivered. There’s a lot of wrestling on Memorial Day weekend 2023 and WWE’s main roster raised the bar like a gym rat. And in typical fashion, their last match provided enough drama to talk about all weekend. And it’s a long weekend.

Is it Friday yet?

Grade: A

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