The one and only night where being a champion in WWE matters…apparently.
Its also a RAW-exclusive pay-per-view. I invite you to make of that what you will.
Emanating from Indianapolis, IN
Announcers: Byron Saxton, Corey Graves, Michael Cole
RAW TAG TEAM CHAMPIONSHIP: NEW DAY (c) vs. LUKE GALLOWS AND KARL ANDERSON
WWE CRUSIERWEIGHT CHAMPIONSHIP: TJ PERKINS (c) vs. BRIAN KENDRICK
BEST OF 7 SERIES MATCH 7: CEASRO vs. SHEAMUS
SAMI ZAYN vs. CHRIS JERICHO
RAW WOMEN’S CHAMPIONSHIP: CHARLOTTLE (c) vs. SASHA BANKS vs. BAYLEY
UNITED STATES CHAMPIONSHIP: RUSEV (c) vs. ROMAN REIGNS
WWE UNIVERSAL CHAMPIONSHIP: KEVIN OWENS (c) vs. SETH ROLLINS
SPOILER WARNING: MATCH RESULTS AHEAD. YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED
So with Backlash behind us, it’s RAW’s turn to step up to the single-branded pay-per-view plate. And what better event to do so at than Clash of Champions, whose theme is that the titles all matter? Wait, shouldn’t that be the case every single-
Question is: did it manage to out-do Smackdown’s solo showing, or was it a big ol’ flop?
I always thought that RAW got the lion’s share of the talent in the Draft waaaaay back in July. Sure, Smackers got Dean Ambrose, John Cena, AJ Styles, Becky Lynch and the like, but RAW got Kevin Owens, Finn Balor, Seth Rollins, Sami Zayn, Chris Jericho, Bayley, Sasha Banks, Charlotte…
And Roman Reigns.
Okay fine, but that’s still only 1 for 9, that’s not bad.
Anyway, the point of me bringing that up is that the superior talent of the RAW brand was on full display at the Night of the Clash of Champions, as every match from the top of the card right down to the bottom was fantastic, from a wrestling standpoint. Seriously, I wouldn’t put any match on this card under 3 stars in terms of quality, were I so inclined to rate things. Of course while he marquee matches delivered as expected, it was one of the lesser matches on the card that ended up stealing the show for me, and that was Cesaro and Sheamus’ final clash in their long-running Best of 7 Series. Cesaro and Sheamus went above and beyond to deliver an incredible, hard-hitting affair that the crowd absolutely ate up. The way Cesaro and Sheamus creatively and savagely brutalized each other did so much more to sell how much this match meant to them than any vague promises of miscellaneous title shots could ever hope to. I probably would have called it a perfect match, were it not for its finish, which I’ll get to later.
That’s not to take away from any other match on the card, including the Universal Championship, which was thrilling in its own right. My blatant fanboyism of Kevin Owens aside, WWE has made such an incredibly right call by giving him a run as the top heel champ: Owens is utterly perfect as a sneering, arrogant heel champ, with his ability to talk the most amazing trash and wrestle like a madman being close to unmatched by anyone else on the roster. Rollins was also great in this match, with it being clear that he’s growing more and more into his newfound baby face role with each passing night. The finish, which involved Chris Jericho, Stephanie McMahon and a second ref, was perhaps a tad cluttered, but given the way the feud between Owens and Rollins has played out up to this point, I was pretty much expecting shenanigans of some kind, albeit perhaps a little more Triple H-flavored than they actually turned out to be.
That said, however, there were other finishes on the card, which I wasn’t exactly thrilled by. Chief among those being the Raw Tag Team Championship match, which ended with Xavier Woods conking Luke Gallows with his trusty trombone to secure the win for the New Day, which means the New Day in fact CHEATED TO WIN. I can never stand it whenever baby faces cheat to win, its always, always bullshit to me, and there’s really only a very limited number of scenarios wherein baby faces should cheat, and most of them involve being Eddie Guerrero. Sorry New Day, but you guys are not Eddie Guerrero, and Gallows and Anderson really didn’t do anything to warrant new Day having to cheat to beat them; so all it really served to do was make new Day look like a-holes and Gallows and Anderson look like fools, which seems to be the norm for the Club alumni, unfortunately.
Which brings me to the other finish that endlessly pissed me off: the no-contest conclusion to Sheamus and Cesaro’s amazing match. Hey kids, wanna know the best way to piss all over a fan’s commitment of their hard-earned money to your wrestling show? The answer is to have the best match of the night end in a completely unsatisfying way. This is even more galling when you consider that this was supposed to be the decisive match in a series of 7 MATCHES, meaning we’ve already watched Cesaro and Sheamus trade wins for MONTHS now, what could possibly be gained from further dragging this out? Mayhaps WWE feels that this series shouldn’t end before clear stakes for its outcome are actually established? It would certainly help.
Outside of those particular points, Clash of Champions was generally a strong show. I hate to make it sound like I’m throwing guys and gals like Zayn, Jericho, Banks, Bayley, and Charlotte under the bus, but they for the most part delivered the reliably strong performances that have become expected of all of them. The results of both these matches, Jericho pinning Zayn and Charlotte retaining her Women’s Championship yet again, were a bit questionable, but given the nature of both of these feuds, its unlikely that either of these matches will be the last time we see these particular collisions. The Cruiserweights also delivered in their pay-per-view debut; with TJ Perkins and his awesome chip tune retro arcade-inspired entrance meshing well Brian Kendrick and his…pirate gimmick? I guess?
Why does Kendrick have a pirate flag?
Whatever, point was, it was a good match, and Kendrick’s post-match snub of TJP’s show of sportsmanship points to a promising feud between the two down the line.
Finally, I would be remiss not to mention the US Title match between “Don’t Call Him Alexander” Rusev and Roman “He’s Never Popular When He” Reigns…mainly because it happened on the show, so I feel obligated to talk about it. It was actually a pretty great match, which has been the norm for matches involving Roman Reigns this year. Too bad that Roman’s match performances have done precisely fuck-all to win anyone over. If I might make a suggestion, perhaps you shouldn’t book Roman to interrupt people’s wedding celebrations and humiliate them like a big, grinning dick head? That’s assuming you want Roman to be a baby face people actually, y’know, LIKE…but hey, WWE, you’ve been trucking along for so long now with this whole “Roman being The Worst” thing that you may as well just keep trucking, eh?
My gripes with some of the booking decisions aside, Clash of Champions turned out to be quite the delight, loaded with great action and plenty of standout moments. Anyone who bothers to read this who also achieves the double miracle of being a wrestling fan who reads this owes it to themselves to give this show a look.