By Jason Powell, ProWrestling.net Editor (@prowrestlingnet)
ProWrestling.net Live returns today at 3CT/4ET with Jason Powell and Jonny Fairplay taking your calls coming out of WWE Clash of Champions at PWAudio.net.
WWE Clash of Champions Hits
Roman Reigns vs. Jey Uso for the WWE Universal Championship: The storytelling was terrific. Reigns played his part to perfection by remorselessly beating his cousin while demanding that Jey refer to him as the Tribal Chief and head of the table. Jey was a combination of sympathetic and admirable for refusing to tell Reigns what he wanted to hear regardless of the beating that he was taking. The finish with Jimmy Uso throwing in the towel and telling Reigns what he wanted to hear was well done. It will be interesting to see if they go back to this or where Reigns goes next. Long term, Jimmy calling Reigns the Tribal Chief and head of the table leaves the door open for the possibility that he and Jey will join Reigns at the proverbial table. Heel Jimmy and Jey joining forces with Reigns would create a terrific heel faction.
Jeff Hardy vs. AJ Styles vs. Sami Zayn in a Triple Threat ladder match for the Intercontinental Championship: This was the best match of the night in a traditional sense, as all three men worked hard and produced a top notch ladder match. The spot with Zayn handcuffing Hardy’s earlobe to a ladder was unique, and this is one of the only times that I actually enjoyed a match finish that involved the use of handcuffs. The creativity of the spots and the finish were strong and I was pleasantly surprised to see Zayn walk away with the title.
Drew McIntyre vs. Randy Orton in an Ambulance Match for the WWE Championship: One of the broadcast team members essentially gave away the story when Big Show attacked Orton by saying that Orton’s sins were coming back to haunt him. It was a clever line, but at that moment it was obvious that Show wasn’t the only one of Orton’s punt kick victims who was going to play a part in the match. Even so, it was fun to see Show, Christian, Shawn Michaels, and even Ric Flair get some measure of revenge. The use of the legends gave Orton an obvious out for losing the match. I assume this is leading to McIntyre vs. Orton in a Hell in a Cell match next month.
Overall show: There were more Misses than Hits on this show, but the top three matches delivered in a big way and were more than enough to make up for the rest of card. This was an entertaining pay-per-view and it’s encouraging to see WWE take the less is more approach. I don’t miss watching needlessly long pay-per-view events that felt like they would never end. One can only hope that they don’t fall back into their old ways once the pandemic ends and fans are allowed back in arenas.
WWE Clash of Champions Misses
The Street Profits vs. Angel Garza and Andrade for the Raw Tag Titles: It’s unfortunate that Garza suffered an injury and here’s wishing him the best in his recovery. And while I totally understand the call to end the match early, I am still baffled by WWE’s new approach of having the referee make a three count even though the person taking the loss kicks out at the referee’s two count. I get that there are no fans present and therefore fans watching at home can hear more than usual, but surely they could have the referee communicate with the wrestlers enough to let them know about the new finish. The current approach makes the referees look incompetent and leads to confusing and unsatisfying match finishes.
Bobby Lashley vs. Apollo Crews for the U.S. Championship: There was no need for this match to happen again. Lashley has dominated Crews with the Full Nelson several times and the company didn’t do anything to make viewers think Crews had any chance of winning this match. This would have felt boring on a regular Raw show and had no business on this pay-per-view card.
Asuka vs. Zelina Vega for the Raw Women’s Championship: Another match that felt like it belonged on Raw. There was zero mystery regarding the outcome and WWE continues to expose the depth problem that they created in the women’s division by focusing so heavily on Asuka, Bayley, Sasha Banks, and Charlotte Flair while making most of the other women feel like afterthoughts.
Shinsuke Nakamura and Cesaro vs. Kalisto and Lince Dorado for the Smackdown Tag Titles: The storyline focus going into the match was more on the bickering amongst the Lucha House Party trio than their chances of winning the tag titles. Oddly, there were no hints of friction between Kalisto and Dorado during this match. I understand saving the breakup angle for television, but surely they could have worked in some conflict just to keep the story going. If nothing else, the in-ring work was solid.
Bayley vs. Asuka for the Smackdown Women’s Championship: WWE was put in a tough spot when Nikki Cross was unable to wrestle as advertised. But going back to Asuka as the impromptu opponent for Bayley was a groaner because we’d already seen her wrestle and I’ve personally seen more than enough of Bayley vs. Asuka. Ultimately, the match was just a quick way to get to Sasha Banks attacking Bayley, which was fine as they continue the build to their showdown match. Speaking of which, I hope they have a little fun on draft night by having Bayley or Sasha drafted to Raw so that Bayley can gloat about not having to face Banks, only to have the drafted wrestler traded back to Smackdown.
This showed that WWE can still put good heat on the main titles from time to time, but they rarely do anything compelling with the rest of the card.