By Jason Powell
WWE Clash of Champions Hits
Charlotte vs. Sasha Banks vs. Bayley for the Raw Women’s Championship: A good Triple Threat match. The live crowd didn’t seem to buy into the possibility of Charlotte dropping the title. It would have been nice to have seen more of Bayley vs. Sasha, as so much of the match revolved around Charlotte. We’ve seen better matches from this trio in NXT, but this was still one of the better main roster efforts from the women. The problem with the finish is that it didn’t leave me anxious to see what comes next. My guess is Sasha gets the next title shot simply because she wasn’t pinned.
New Day vs. Karl Anderson and Luke Gallows for the WWE Tag Team Championship: This was the best Anderson and Gallows have been cast since early in their WWE run. They were no nonsense ass kickers. New Day won the match, but Anderson and Gallows were protected to some degree by the finish that had Xavier Woods hitting Anderson with the trombone. Are we getting a feud ending (or at least feud changing if the heels win) Hell in a Cell match?
TJ Perkins vs. Brian Kendrick for the WWE Cruiserweight Championship: A minor Hit for the match and the clean finish. The post match angle was encouraging. I like that Kendrick was established as the first heel of the division by asking for a handshake and then headbutting Perkins. It left me wanting more from these two and I am looking forward to seeing what happens next with the other cruiserweights on tonight’s Raw. Will this be like the old Divas division in that it’s about the champion and his challenger of the month or will they take the time to establish separate programs for guys who are not working title matches?
Chris Jericho vs. Sami Zayn: A good match aside from a couple of clunky moments. I never had a strong feeling about the outcome of the match so the near falls were more suspenseful than in some of the other matches. Jericho going over works in that it gives Zayn something to avenge and his first real program since his feud with Kevin Owens concluded (okay, it’s never ending, but you know what I mean). I love that Jericho is cast as the savvy heel who knows all the shortcuts. He continues to be one of the most entertaining performers on the mic and in the ring these days.
Nia Jax vs. Alicia Fox: A minor Hit for the Kickoff Show match. Fox got a little offense and even a two count, but otherwise it was more of the same with Jax dominating. I liked the Samoan Drop finisher for Jax, as the move looks impressive when a woman her size performs it on a smaller wrestler.
WWE Clash of Champions Misses
Kevin Owens vs. Seth Rollins for the WWE Universal Championship: The live crowd’s flat reaction throughout the match was telling and appropriate. We heard from both wrestlers prior to the match, and they both spoke about proving something to the authority figures. Owens wanted to prove to Stephanie McMahon and Mick Foley that Hunter made the right call in backing him. Rollins wanted to prove that Hunter backed the wrong guy. Why is a WWE Universal Championship feud focussed more on Triple H and Stephanie McMahon than the title itself? Rollins has yet to have that bonding moment with fans. Perhaps that crappy ref bump and the interference of Chris Jericho will help get fans in his corner, but they have a long way to go. It seems like WWE wants to take the Steve Austin approach by having Rollins be the same guy he was as a heel. Austin was a badass heel who passed out while refusing to submit to the Sharpshooter. Seth was a sniveling heel who relied on interference from The Authority to win his matches, and he’s only a babyface now because Triple H chose to cheat for someone else last month. The fans wanted to cheer Austin. WWE had a great window to turn Rollins when he returned from knee surgery and fans wanted to cheer him, but they blew it because of Vince McMahon’s ongoing obsession with making Roman Reigns a top babyface. They can still make Rollins click in this role, but they have to give viewers something to rally behind.
Overall show: A minor Miss. There was solid to good work from the wrestlers throughout the night. Unfortunately, too many matches were bogged down with bad finishes. Some of those finishes may be designed to make a match or two Hell in a Cell ready, but they were bad nonetheless. The finishes featured a trombone, a double medical stoppage, and a bad TNA era ref bump in the main event. The bulk of the show was solid and the main event had a chance to make this a passable show. The effort from the wrestlers was there, but the quiet crowd and the finish ended Clash of Champions on a down note.
Sheamus vs. Cesaro: The finish turned a really good match into a Miss. There’s still a chance that WWE will give viewers a payoff in the form of an eighth match that will air on tonight’s Raw. Still, this was a disappointing finish for the live crowd and the pay-per-view audience. And it’s a shame because the wrestlers worked very hard and saved the best match of the series for last. It will be interesting to see if they book a winner on Raw or if Mick Foley makes their “championship opportunity” a shot at the tag titles.
Rusev vs. Roman Reigns for the U.S. Championship: The wrestlers worked hard, but I’ve lost interest in the feud and the U.S. Title means nothing to me at this point. I’m surprised they gave us the title change in this match rather than saving it for next month. This is one of the only feuds that feels heated enough to warrant the Hell in a Cell stipulation. We may still get it, but you’d think they would have held off on the title change for what should be the blowoff match. Will Reigns winning the U.S. Championship keep him out of the WWE Universal Title picture even though he just beat Kevin Owens in a cage match? Will Vince McMahon go all in on Reigns by having him win both of Raw’s singles titles? They don’t really think Sheamus winning the series and earning a U.S. Title shot is a good idea, do they?!?