05/03/2024

Picture: WWE

A history-making Premium Live Event is scheduled for this Sunday, with the crowning of a new World Heavyweight Champion and the Tribal Chief hitting a monumental milestone.

WWE Night of Champions will emanate from the Jeddah Superdome in Saudi Arabia at 3am AEST on BINGE, marking eight years since it’s last edition in 2015.

It replaced King and Queen of the Ring, also being the first Premium Live Event since the new rosters took effect from the WWE Draft and will feature a triple main event.

Cody Rhodes will take on Brock Lesnar for a second time, Seth Rollins and AJ Styles will battle for the World Heavyweight Championship, and Roman Reigns will desperately attempt to claim tag team gold with a trusted Solo Sikoa from Sami Zayn and Kevin Owens.

Below is The Inner Sanctum’s preview and predictions for each match at Night of Champions.

Video: WWE

Rhea Ripley (c) vs Natalya – Smackdown Women’s Championship

Picture: WWE

Rhea Ripley is set to defend her Smackdown Women’s Title at Night of Champions against veteran and Raw recruit, Natalya.

Their feud ignited on the May 9 edition of Raw, where the Eradicator made light work of Dana Brooke and conducted a post-match assault. It was interrupted by the Queen of Harts, as she confronted the champion and made her intentions clear.

Video: WWE

Ripley then confirmed the match for Night of Champions on the Raw go-home show and should easily dispose of Natalya.

The Smackdown Women’s Champion is bound to retain and does not hope to boost her challenger’s stock, but has vowed to end her long career.

Prediction: Rhea Ripley

Becky Lynch vs Trish Stratus

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More than a month after Trish Stratus betrayed Becky Lynch, the WWE Hall of Famer will collide against the Man at Night of Champions.

The Canadian backstabbed Lynch on the April 11 edition of Raw, after the pair lost the Women’s Tag Team Championships. Stratus took Lita’s place in the match after attacking her prior, before beating down on the Man post-defeat.

Trish then clarified her actions one week later, believing she isn’t given enough credit for her contribution to women’s wrestling and saying she is, “nobody’s sidekick”. Lynch was not seen on television until four weeks after the betrayal, assaulting her now-nemesis on the May 9 edition of Raw.

Video: WWE

The Man challenged Stratus to a match the following week and will more than likely emerge victorious, but it is unknown whether this rivalry will conclude in Jeddah or continue towards SummerSlam.

If the Man is in the women’s Money in the Bank ladder match and WWE decide to prolong this feud, then it is possible for Stratus to cost her and set up a final showdown at the biggest party of the summer. This would also give time for Lita to be in the mix, if that is something the company wish to pursue.

Prediction: Becky Lynch

Gunther (c) vs Mustafa Ali – Intercontinental Championship

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Mustafa Ali will receive a rare opportunity at championship gold, when he challenges Gunther for the Intercontinental Title.

Ali was victorious in a battle royal on the May 16 edition of Raw to earn the shot, winning in sensational fashion by eliminating Bronson Reed and Ricochet simultaneously with a dropkick.

Video: WWE

While the challenger has undergone a gimmick change and will have the crowd’s support, the Ring General is a certainty to retain his title and progress with his dominant reign.

The match should serve as a one-off, with the battle royal showcasing other potential talent Gunther could feud with in the long-term like Matt Riddle, Johnny Gargano, Chad Gable and Bronson Reed.

Prediction: Gunther

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

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A changed Asuka will have a second chance at capturing the Raw Women’s Championship, when she takes on Bianca Belair at Night of Champions.

The two competed against each other at WrestleMania, where the E.S.T. prevailed to continue her tenure. She then solidified her name in history, becoming the longest-reigning women’s champion of the modern era after defeating IYO SKY at Backlash.

As Belair was on the verge of celebrating her significant achievement on the May 13 edition of Smackdown, the Empress of Tomorrow crashed the party and blew mist in the champion’s face to indicate her desire for retribution.

Video: WWE

This now gives WWE another opportunity to hand Asuka the title, as there is minimal competition left for Belair. The company could wait for a return from Charlotte Flair or even set up a unification match between the E.S.T. and Rhea Ripley, removing the branded titles and crowning one women’s world champion.

If neither of those are planned, then the Empress of Tomorrow should win and it could present a SummerSlam showdown against IYO SKY. The latter seems to be on the cusp of disbanding from Damage CTRL and turning face, building the foundation for a future title reign.

Asuka has also recently turned heel and a defeat would stifle her momentum, as she would appear directionless. A rivalry with the Genius of the Sky is still possible, but it would mean much more if it was for the championship and would be a passing of the torch.

Prediction: Asuka

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Cody Rhodes vs Brock Lesnar

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Cody Rhodes will walk into the lion’s den once again, when he battles Brock Lesnar in a rematch from Backlash.

The American Nightmare was victorious in unconvincing fashion in their first encounter, as the Beast retaliated two nights later when he cost Rhodes in the first round of the World Heavyweight Championship tournament.

Lesnar sent his rival through the announce table with an F5 and made the challenge for Night of Champions, which Rhodes later accepted.

Video: WWE

The Beast has still not explained his actions for brutally assaulting the American Nightmare on the Raw after WrestleMania, which has hindered the angle for not producing any level of storytelling.

However, what makes this match somewhat intriguing is Rhodes’ condition heading into the show. His arm was badly injured on the May 23 edition of Raw at the hands of Lesnar, refusing to receive medical attention and instead committing himself to the fight.

Despite the American Nightmare’s desperation, the Beast has the advantage and should seize this opportunity to dispatch a weakened Rhodes. While the 2023 men’s Royal Rumble winner has proven he can battle with injury, it is a whole different circumstance stepping inside the ring against Lesnar.

A victory from the former WWE Champion should then set up a final match at Money in the Bank or SummerSlam, which is the direction the company seem to be heading towards. It would just look poor on Lesnar’s behalf if he could not beat a battered Rhodes at Night of Champions.

Prediction: Brock Lesnar

Seth Rollins vs AJ Styles – World Heavyweight Championship

Picture: WWE

A new World Heavyweight Champion will be determined at Night of Champions, when Seth Rollins and AJ Styles meet one-on-one in a match that was desired by many.

Tournaments took place on both Raw and Smackdown in the week after Backlash to decide who would compete in Jeddah for the prize.

The Visionary defeated Shinsuke Nakamura and Damian Priest in triple threat action, before overcoming Finn Balor later on. The Phenomenal One prevailed over Edge and Rey Mysterio, later proceeding to defeat Bobby Lashley.

Video: WWE

Ever since the title’s reveal on the April 25 edition of Raw, Rollins was the overwhelming favourite to become the new World Heavyweight Champion.

With Roman Reigns as the Undisputed Universal Champion and the red brand having no world title of their own, the Visionary was forced to partake in midcard feuds when he has the calibre to be involved in higher programs.

However, there is now a cast of doubt to Rollins capturing the title and his availability moving forward. He will be featured in the upcoming film, Captain America: New World Order and it could influence his chances of having a full-time schedule with WWE in the long-term.

Another factor to consider is if Styles emerges victorious, it should enforce a trade and could be a smooth transition for Cody Rhodes moving to Smackdown to challenge Reigns down the road.

Regardless, the Phenomenal One should stay on the blue brand and WWE would have a plan to navigate Rollins during his casting if they were to give him the World Heavyweight Championship.

Fans have been craving for the Visionary to be in a top position and this is WWE’s chance to give the audience what they want, while Styles could be involved in a rivalry with Karrion Kross on Smackdown.

Prediction: Seth Rollins

Kevin Owens & Sami Zayn (c) vs Roman Reigns & Solo Sikoa – Undisputed Tag Team Championships

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On his 1000th day as Undisputed Universal Champion, a power-hungry Roman Reigns will team with Solo Sikoa against Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn for the Undisputed Tag Team Titles.

The Tribal Chief is determined for the gold to come back to The Bloodline and has decided to take those matters into his own hands, losing trust in The Usos after the duo lost consecutive matches for the championships.

Reigns labelled the twins as, “problems” on the May 13 edition of Smackdown and demanded an apology, shoving Jimmy’s face in frustration. It created further angst between the two parties that only intensified the next week, when The Usos assaulted Owens and Zayn to the disagreement of the Tribal Chief.

Video: WWE

It would not be the right decision to give the tag team titles back to The Bloodline, as Owens and Zayn’s remarkable WrestleMania victory would become meaningless. They defeated the longest-reigning champions of all time and to lose the gold after nearly two months would be catastrophic.

The most likely scenario to pan out is The Usos getting involved in the match and not directly costing Reigns and Sikoa, but making a mistake in assisting them to allow the current champions to retain.

This would become the breaking point for the Undisputed Universal Champion to turn on Jimmy and Jey, potentially sparking a tag team encounter with the Enforcer against the twin duo. Meanwhile, Owens and Zayn would properly move on from The Bloodline and focus on other teams that need the spotlight and opportunity.

Prediction: Kevin Owens & Sami Zayn

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