Roman Reigns goes on last.
That was the defining statement at WWE Night of Champions in Saudi Arabia, where a tag title match featuring Reigns closed out the show instead of the bout to decide the new world heavyweight champion. And it wasn’t wrong: Reigns’s story was exceptional, with The Usos finally taking a stand against him after he refused to stop antagonizing his own bloodline.
Reigns, who reached rarified air by hitting 1,000 days as world champion, celebrated the mark in indignant fashion, getting superkicked twice by Jimmy Uso. This came after The Usos accidentally superkicked Solo Sikoa, who ended up suffering the main event loss to the team of Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn.
Best of all, this was a perfect progression in the ongoing narrative of Owens, Zayn, and The Bloodline—Owens and Zayn were able to defeat Reigns, finally cracking The Bloodline.
The shows in Saudi Arabia are propaganda for the nation’s government, a role WWE happily fulfills in return for a king’s ransom worth of cash. Play-by-play man Michael Cole was particularly effusive in his celebration of host city Jeddah, which will remain a stain in his highlight reel. WWE makes $50 million per event in Saudi, but while the company wallows in its financial windfall, it must also deal with the backlash of partnering with a kingdom known for for its restrictions of political rights and civil liberties.
While the vast majority of the cards in Saudi Arabia are glorified house shows, this was an exception. WWE’s next major card—Money in the Bank—isn’t until July, and some significant moments took place during an outstanding Night of Champions. In addition to the main event, two titles changed hands, including Asuka ending Bianca Belair’s 420-day title reign as Raw women’s champion. Zoey Stark emerged as the newest rival for Becky Lynch (whose program with Trish Stratus will also extend), Brock Lesnar evened the score with a win against Cody Rhodes, and Seth Rollins did what was expected by winning the new world heavyweight championship.
Here are the full results:
• Seth Rollins defeated AJ Styles to win the new world heavyweight championship
• Trish Stratus defeated Becky Lynch
• Intercontinental champion Gunther defeated Mustafa Ali
• Asuka defeated Bianca Belair to win the Raw women’s championship
• Rhea Ripley defeated Natalya Neidhart
• Brock Lesnar defeated Cody Rhodes
• Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn defeated Roman Reigns and Solo Sikoa to retain the undisputed tag team titles
In the show opener, Rollins defeated Styles to become WWE’s new world heavyweight champion. The outcome was never in doubt; Styles isn’t even a member of the Raw roster, the show where the title will be defended. To their credit, Rollins and Styles added intrigue and excitement to the match, showcasing why they are two of the very best in the industry.
Rollins sold an injured knee in the waning moments of the match, but finished Styles with a pedigree (fitting since Triple H awarded him with the belt, and given the two’s history together). Hopefully Styles can go on to challenge Reigns on SmackDown, and it is great that Rollins can provide Raw with a champion. There is no doubt about the pecking order; Reigns is the company’s top champ, but Rollins can distinguish himself by wrestling better matches on a more frequent basis.
A harder match to predict was Bianca Belair defending the Raw women’s title against Asuka. Belair is no longer part of the Raw roster, so something needed to be done about her title reign. That issue was resolved when Asuka ended Belair’s epic championship run. It is a surprise that Bayley was not the one chosen to dethrone Belair, but Asuka is a legitimate star and it makes more sense to have a member of the SmackDown roster as champion.
Belair’s 420-day run is the longest reign with the belt, surpassing Lynch’s reign that lasted just under 400 days. She has reached a point in her stardom where it would benefit her to chase the champ instead of holding the belt, making this an important stretch for Belair.
In what was effectively a one-sided squash match, Rhea Ripley quickly demolished Natalya Neidhart to retain the SmackDown title. Losing in a shade over a minute did no favors for Neidhart, but it was the right call. It further established Ripley as a dominant, unstoppable force, and it allows the women’s titles to be switched now that Ripley is on Raw.