It’s been another huge week of twists and turns in WWE as the company delivered not one but two newsworthy Premium Live Events (PLE).
From the kingdom of Saudi Arabia to Lowell, Massachusetts, the sports entertainment giant continued their upswing in form.
Many feared what the future might hold after a number of behind the scenes changes threatened to upset the apple cart that had well and truly been rolling on the right path under Paul ‘Triple H’ Levesque’s creative watch.
The sprawling epic tale of The Bloodline continued, new champions were crowned and NXT laid on an astonishing match that proved the magic of the black and gold is still alive and kicking.
Andy Spoors has the unenviable task of selecting the biggest talking points from WWE’s offerings in a huge weekend for the wrestling industry…

Bloodline Boils

It feels like every time we write about a WWE PLE, the sprawling tale of The Bloodline reaches another level of drama.

On a day when Roman Reigns should have been celebrating a huge milestone as champion, he instead found himself wondering where it all went wrong. 

After reaching 1000 days with the Universal Championship, Reigns looked to capture the Undisputed WWE Tag Team Championships with his cousin, and brother of The Usos, Solo Sikoa.

In the main event of Night of Champions, Reigns and Sikoa battled to make that goal a reality.

But some misplaced interference by Jimmy and Jey Uso saw a double superkick intended for Sami Zayn miss its mark and hit Solo between the eyes, enraging an onlooking Roman.

After pushing Jimmy and Jey around to assert his dominance, Roman would instantly regret his choices, receiving not one but two superkicks from his cousin Jimmy.

As the pair left the ring, Owens and Zayn capitalised to defend their titles. It was a shocking turn of events, but not completely unexpected.

The moment has racked up a huge amount of social media views and the fallout promises to roll on for weeks to come, starting this Friday at Roman’s 1000 day reign celebration on SmackDown…   

Last Man Standing

The debate around the best era of NXT has been undisputed for a while now.

At its peak it wasn’t a developmental brand, instead it pushed both Raw and SmackDown in terms of match quality and arguably over delivered.

The momentum built over the years began to vanish during the pandemic and a radical overhaul hampered its pursuit over former glories, choosing to focus on character work rather than five star classics.

An unexpected boost has been handed to NXT in recent months with an injection of talent from the now defunct NXT UK.

The likes of Pete Dunne, JD McDonagh and Gunther have come and gone already, but with Tyler Bate, Nathan Frazer and here, Ilaj Dragunov still on the books, the future is incredibly bright.

Built on the challenge of breaking the seemingly indestructible spirit and body of Dragunov, a Last Man Standing match was issued by Dijak for Battleground.

What happened in Massachusetts will go down in NXT folklore. Dragunov’s ability to showcase the pain coursing through his body, while at the same time throwing it around the ring with wanton disregard is astounding.

After classics against Gunther and a standout performance at Stand & Deliver, calls for Dragunov to be called up will only increase.

The match here felt like there was something at stake. It was visceral and downright nasty throughout.

Such was the ferocity of some of the kendo stick shots from Dijak, the bruising and welts were instantly on display on Dragunov’s body.

On a night where two of the brightest stars in WWE’s future main evented, it wasn’t Carmello Hayes or Bron Breakker that fans were left talking about.

It wasn’t the outstanding match between Wes Lee, Tyler Bate and Joe Gacy.

The name on everyone’s lips? Ilaj fucking Dragunov.      

Rollin(s) Into History

There was a huge amount of speculation heading into Night of Champions in regards to which match would main event the show.

WWE went to great pains to stress the PLE had a triple main event, so which would be selected?

Cody Rhodes vs Brock Lesnar. Roman Reigns & Solo Sikoa vs Sami Zayn & Kevin Owens or Seth Rollins vs AJ Styles?

The latter seemed to be the fans choice, with the winner being crowned the new World Heavyweight Champion.

The rationale being that a new world championship needs to be showcased as a big deal and where else can that be done other than the main event of a PLE?

Well, the opening match of the night apparently.

Anyone familiar with Triple H’s booking in NXT knows he put a huge emphasis on opening a show strong (Follow That Motherfuckers) just as strong as you close it.

With the events surrounding the ending to The Bloodline, in retrospect it made sense for Rollins and AJ Styles to open and set the bar high.

Both men are amongst some of the most talented the company have on their books right now and a “good” match would be a disappointment at this level.

In the Saudi heat, the pair delivered a cagey back and forth that as expected, delivered.

It may not have been an instant classic but it was as much as could be expected from a one off final of a tournament.

When Triple H announced the championship would be defended all over the world and by a champion that would show up week in and week out, Seth Rollins was the obvious choice from the start.

And it was the visionary that claimed victory here, vanquishing fears that a recent movie shoot could derail his push to become the inaugural champion.

A brave new era now starts for both Rollins and WWE as they begin to build the legacy and prestige of a championship trapped between the past and present.

In Rollins it has a flag bearer that knows what it means to be a fighting champion, even if he hasn’t held one of the company’s top titles since October 2019.

For now he must overcome one of the criticisms that has been levelled at his championship runs in the past.

Can his reign be as enjoyable as the pursuit? With a huge event coming up in the shape of Money In The Bank live in London, we don’t have long left to wait.        

Tiffany Is A Diamond

The Women’s NXT Championship has experienced something of a curse in recent months.

An extended reign by Mandy Rose was ended abruptly under a dark cloud of Only Fans content and her release from the company altogether.

Roxanne Perez suffered an injury meaning she needed to vacate the title.

Indi Hartwell had the shortest reign with the title in history as an injury and call-up to the main roster put paid to her hold on the championship after only 31 days.

In parallel to the World Heavyweight Championship on the main roster, NXT ran their own tournament to crown a new women’s champion, culminating at Battleground.

The final came down to the mysterious Lyra Valkyria vs daddy’s little rich girl Tiffany Stratton.

The latter has been in and around the championship scene for a while now, putting in some impressive character work to match her athletic ability.

A graduate of WWE’s Performance Center and a shining example of the company’s change in direction to focus on talent outside of the wrestling industry.

Before joining the weird and wonderful world of professional wrestling Stratton was gymnast, something evident in her move set in the ring.

Claiming victory by focusing on Valkyria’s injured knee showed ring prowess well beyond her 22 years.

At that age and with this talent, Stratton can go far in the industry. Her finishing move, aptly named the Prettiest Moonsault Ever is a sight to behold.

Silky smooth in its execution, Stratton now needs to dig in and show that she can continue to grow even with a championship around her waist.

Do that and WrestleMania matches will no doubt be in her future.