Wednesday, July 24, 2024

2023 WWE Night of Champions predictions, card, PPV preview, matches, start time, date, location

The WWE ring returns to Saudi Arabia on Saturday for the Night of Champions pay-per-view event. While this year’s edition of the event doesn’t follow the old rules of “every title in WWE will be on the line,” the card is still loaded with intriguing and important matches.

Five of the card’s seven matches will have a title up for grabs. That includes the main event, where undisputed WWE universal champion Roman Reigns will attempt to leave Saudi Arabia with four belts as he teams with Solo Sikoa to battle undisputed tag team champions Sami Zayn and Kevin Owens. Also, the first world heavyweight champion since 2013 will be crowned when Seth Rollins and AJ Styles clash over the recently-reintroduced title.

Plus, both women’s titles will be at stake. Raw women’s champion Bianca Belair will face off against Asuka while SmackDown women’s champ Rhea Ripley takes on Natalya. And a clash of legends is also scheduled when Trish Stratus takes on Becky Lynch.

The card also sees the return of dominant intercontinental champion Gunther as he welcomes his latest challenger in Mustafa Ali. Gunther has wreaked havoc over the SmackDown brand and a recent move to Raw offers a new roster of challengers to attempt to mow down. Ali represents the first of those challengers after he beat Dolph Ziggler to earn the opportunity.

Let’s take a look at who the CBS Sports experts are picking in each match at Night of Champions, which streams live on Peacock on Saturday at 1 p.m. ET.

WWE Night of Champions 2023 predictions

Undisputed Tag Team Championship — Kevin Owens & Sami Zayn (c) vs. Roman Reigns & Solo Sikoa

I am all in on this tag team match. Reigns has lost faith in The Usos and is taking matters into his own hands, accelerating The Bloodline’s demise. Putting the tag titles at stake allows the rare opportunity for Reigns to go out on his back without jeopardizing his record title run. Zayn and Owens, particularly the former, are long overdue for revenge on the undisputed world champion. There will be few sweeter moments in 2023 than seeing Zayn Helluva Kick Reigns and pick up the three-count. Reigns is bulletproof and a clean loss at his expense won’t knock him down a peg as much as it will elevate everyone directly and indirectly involved in the match. Owens and Zayn will score a marquee win, The Usos’ will be validated despite their recent losses and the aura of Sikoa as the group’s true biggest threat will continue to build. Pick: Kevin Owens & Sami Zayn retain the titles — Shakiel Mahjouri (also Brent Brookhouse)

Brock Lesnar vs. Cody Rhodes

Rhodes’ win over Lesnar at Backlash was shocking. Not that it was shocking that Rhodes won as much as it was shocking to see Lesnar gushing blood for nearly the entirety of the match. The blood — intentional or not — added a whole new level of intensity to the rivalry between Lesnar and Rhodes and has set Lesnar off on a violent path of revenge. In the final Raw before Night of Champions, Lesnar badly injured Rhodes’ arm, which sets up another excuse for how Lesnar can get his win back without harming Rhodes’ place as a top talent too much. It’s also unclear what Rhodes’ big SummerSlam program would be, so dragging things forward with Lesnar makes a good amount of sense. Pick: Brock Lesnar wins — Brookhouse (also Mahjouri)

World Heavyweight Championship — Seth Rollins vs. AJ Styles

Rollins vs. Styles will be a fantastic match, no doubt about it. It’s also refreshing to see Styles return to the main event scene after his latest midcard run and a stint in NXT. It’s certainly feasible for Styles to have another world title run at age 45. The issue is that his momentum — barring something like an O.C. heel turn — is non-existent. Rollins is hotter than ever and is long, long overdue for a top spot after giving the rub to Cody Rhodes, Logan Paul and others in 2021 and 2022. WWE missed the mark with elevating Rhodes and Sami Zayn this year. They can’t do it again. Pick: Seth Rollins wins the vacant title — Mahjouri (also Brookhouse)

Intercontinental Championship — Gunther (c) vs. Mustafa Ali

Ali won a battle royal to earn a shot at long-reigning champion Gunther. That probably shouldn’t be shocking given he is a regular on WWE’s cards in Saudi Arabia. What would be shocking would be Ali winning the match. Gunther is on a hell of a run and just got a fresh batch of challengers when he was drafted to Raw. His reign won’t last forever, but there is no reason for it to end without there being a compelling program around the title swap, not a guy just winning a battle royal. Pick: Gunther retains the title — Brookhouse (also Mahjouri)

Raw Women’s Championship — Bianca Belair (c) vs. Asuka

WWE have booked themselves into a corner with this match. Belair and Asuka had a strong showing at WrestleMania 39 despite a mismanaged build. Belair is a marketable and valuable champion for the company; meanwhile, Asuka is one of the division’s few legitimate threats. Asuka has not been booked well enough to dethrone Belair this weekend, but a second loss to the champ won’t remedy that either. The safe play is to keep the title on Belair, but much needs to be done after Night of Champions to prepare Asuka for an eventual title run. Pick: Bianca Belair retains the title — Mahjouri (also Brookhouse)

SmackDown Women’s Championship — Rhea Ripley (c) vs. Natalya

Similar to Gunther’s match with Ali, this match doesn’t feel like there’s any intrigue. Natalya was in the first women’s match in Saudi Arabia and she gets a title shot in the latest trip to the country. But the entire thing came about because Natalya stepped in when Ripley continued to attack Dana Brooke after winning a one-on-one match. Ripley isn’t going to have her still-young title reign end yet and certainly not against Natalya, who is no longer really a player as a potential world champion. Pick: Rhea Ripley retains the title — Brookhouse (also Mahjouri)

Becky Lynch vs. Trish Stratus

It feels like WWE wants to extend this story to SummerSlam, maybe with Stratus only occasionally appearing between Night of Champions and the summer’s big pay-per-view extravaganza. The only way that can happen is with Stratus picking up a cheap win over Lynch. It feels like that’s the easiest play for all involved here. Pick: Trish Stratus wins — Brookhouse

This is a match buoyed purely by star power and dream status. The price tag on these Saudi Arabia shows dictate marquee matchups, after all. It’s nice that WWE has at least tried to build a story around Lynch vs. Stratus instead of slapping it onto a poster and calling it a day. Lynch should pick up the victory in a historic-ish match and can move forward to an intriguing world title program with Rhea Ripley. Pick: Becky Lynch wins — Mahjouri

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