Heading into WWE Raw’s first special event, ‘Clash of Champions,’ Kevin Owens looks to defend his newly won WWE Universal Championship. His opponent is Seth Rollins, the man who was once handpicked by Chief Operating Officer Triple H to be the face of the company, but found himself on the receiving end of a pedigree when Triple H aligned himself with Owens, handing his new protege the WWE Universal Championship in the process. At ‘Clash of Champions 2016,’ all championships will be defended…
The New Day (Kofi Kingston & Big E) (C)
Luke Gallows & Karl Anderson
(WWE Raw Tag Team Championship)
Started quickly, with Anderson and Gallows using their physical style to take control. The match itself felt a bit rushed, but the challengers dominated throughout and were made to look a threat. The finish came when Xavier Woods nailed Anderson with his trombone, allowing his teammates to score the pinfall and retain their championship titles.
T.J. Perkins (C)
(WWE Cruiserweight Championship)
Before the match, T.J. Perkins was interviewed backstage. Typical babyface promo about overcoming odds and achieving dreams. Kendrick was out first, followed by the champion (as it should be!). The ropes and ringside graphics have all been turned to the WWE Cruiserweight Classic theme and colours – I don’t like it, makes it seem like they aren’t part of the same show as everyone else. Crowd couldn’t get into the match at first, having not seen much of these guys previously, but the two competitors hard work got the match over by the time it came to an end. T.J. Perkins got the win by submission. Few botches, but match moved at a quick pace and Perkins did well on his main roster debut. Afterwards, Kendrick embraces Perkins, only to then floor him with a headbutt – the cruiserweight division now has its first heel.
(Best of 7 series, Match #7)
I was amazed that they blasted through the previous six matches in the space of one month, having expected it to be spaced out over 2-3 months. With some creative promos, match variations (tag’s, etc.), they could’ve made the build to each official Best of 7 match much greater, but instead it was left for talent to get his feud over, which it did in the previous six matches. The story is that Sheamus has blown a 3-0 lead, and now Cesaro has the momentum. Quick note: I hate Cesaro’s 007 entrance, as the tuxedo looks daft on him.
The action was back and forth, and very physical. Cesaro has one of the best movesets in the company, and they have got very over with the crowds he performs in front of. He even threw in a 619, albeit at a somewhat slower speed than we were used to seeing Rey Mysterio do it at in previous years. Cesaro almost broke his damn neck on one of his dives out of the ring – why are they still being allowed to perform this move?
The finish came when both men were unable to compete, making in a tie/no contest. The Best of 7 series has no winner.
As a finish, it was a little flat. Given the brutality they’d brought upon each other, it was a rather weak move that led to the referee stoppage. That said, I enjoyed it, and very much like to see feuds carried on over longer periods of time. Todays more modern fan wants winner and losers though, and normally the person they want to win and no one else – no patience for these drawn out feuds and finishes that the brand split has forced upon the company. I’m all for it, personally.
Cesaro sold the finish perfectly, even managing to fool me into thinking he was legit pissed off, and that the match was meant to end a different way. I doubt I was the only person worked on that one!
Big match for Sami Zayn, even if the match was a little bit of an afterthought on this card. Zayn shouldn’t be an afterthought though, especially on a show that airs a three-hour episode each week. Do the work with him that they did in WWE NXT, and he’ll be over with the crowd much stronger than he is now.
Jericho has been superb in his most recent role, and is walking that fine line of being such a good god damn heel that fans will start trying to naturally turn him into a babyface. His track talking, body language, etc., is all top drawer. There’s a lot of young talent in this company who should be going to this guy for advice each and every day whilst he’s still around, as they could learn a lot. No one touches him.
Good match, and Zayn’s dive through the ropes into the swinging DDT actually looked more brutal during its near-botch than it does normally. Almost looked like Jericho was being legit strangled on his way to the ground.
Jericho gets the win with a Codebreaker. Match was good, but would’ve been better if Zayn was more over with the crowd. Match was thrown together last minute, and lacked any real psychology to it, impacting its final grade ever so slightly.
Charlotte Flair (C)
(WWE Raw Women’s Championship)
I have two little grumbles going into this match. One, if Sasha was going to have recovered from her injury in time to compete for the title at the PPV after the one where her injury forced her to drop it, why have her lose it? Seems to me like an error on the medical staffs part, as Sasha’s stock got hurt dropping the title so soon after she won it. I can deal though. Second grumble is that Bayley is in this match too soon after her main roster call up, and just looks like she’s there to eat the pin. Last of my moans.
Nice video package, and it’s hard to believe that it wasn’t that long ago that we used to never get video packages before women’s matches. I remember being shocked when one got produced for a Mickie James bout a number of years ago.
Bayley makes her entrance, and whilst she’s still building her reputation on the main roster, this girl is money. Two years time, she’ll be one of the faces of this company. They don’t call her the female John Cena for no reason. Sasha is out next, and looks great. Her attire, attitude, and everything else: spot on for a heel. Shame she’s currently a babyface! Charlotte is out last with Dana, and looks every bit a champion.
Match was to the standard you’d expect from these ladies. Charlotte stretching Sasha around the ring post looked painful as hell, and Sasha’s small physique really sells spots like that. Charlotte’s moonsault onto both Bayley and Sasha at the same time was perfectly executed, and I think she has one of the cleanest moonsaults in this company right now. Bayley and Sasha had a few moments of contact with each other, but it felt very minimal, which was smart as their long-running feud shouldn’t pick up again until next year.
Charlotte retains with a big boot to Bayley, confirming that Bayley was there to eat the pin. No matter though, as someone has to end up on their back at the end of the day. Nice to see that the women aren’t always winning with their typical finishers, although I’m so accustomed to Charlotte using the Figure Eight that I sometimes feel a little cheated when her matches end after a more simple to execute move, like here. Good match, and they got lots of time.
(United States Championship)
I didn’t mind that their match at Summerslam 2016 didn’t end up officially happening. Now that we’re in the post-brand split era, the rosters are smaller, and feuds need to last longer, which is a good thing. The way their feud progressed at Summerslam 2016 sat well with me.
The problem with Roman Reigns matches is that I’m really not into this guy. I don’t hate him, but he seriously just makes me pick up my iPhone to start browsing Twitter and the rest of the internet. He doesn’t make for compelling viewing, which a face of the company must do.
This turned out to be a proper heavyweight battle, which is hard to some crowds to get into after two preceding hours of watching people flip around doing all sorts of moves that Reigns and Rusev simply can’t do due to their size. This crowd was no different, and not helped by the fact that most crowds hate on Reigns regardless of what he’s doing. “CM Punk” chants heard at some point – really hate that, given he’s shown zero care since he left for the fans who chant his name at these shows.
Lana is a great valet, and her ejection felt old school, and the crowd were begging for it. Much preferred her being ejected, rather than forcing the DQ for a Reigns win, which would’ve happened on numerous other occasions to keep the feud moving and to protect both competitors.
Reigns ultimately gets the win by overpowering Rusev, to a chorus of boos, to then hit a spear and get the 1-2-3 count. Your new United States Champion, ladies and gentleman, and Reigns’ first run with the strap.
Nothing was bad here, but nothing engaged me either – I just didn’t buy into the work, and there was nothing memorable other than Lana’s ejection.
Kevin Owens (C)
(WWE Universal Championship)
Backstage promo before the match, with Rollins speaking to Stephanie McMahon and Mick Foley. Whoever on the production team insists on doing these segments with the audio being the audio that is piped into the main arena needs to be shot. Takes you out of the show completely. It’s as bad as when they cut back to show the titantron whenever a backstage promo is being done. Maybe more annoying, in fact.
Great video package for the match, made it feel like the main event. Rollins has that top guy aura, and is maybe the only male competitor who has that going for him right now.
Chris Jericho interference causes a ref bump. Far too long passes afterwards, making enthusiasm for the match start to fall away, as Jericho continues to get involved whilst there is no official. Finally Stephanie brings out a second official, who makes the three count after Rollins turns around into Owens’ finisher. For me, if there’s going to be interference leading to a finish, it has to be WHAM! BAM! DONE! Make the fans pissed, and wondering how that all happened – dragging it out like they did here just made you start checking the time to see when the finish would come.
Brilliant work by Jericho as he and Owens made their way up the ramp to close the show. Jericho honestly might be the greatest talker of this decade.
MATCH OF THE NIGHT:
Cesaro vs. Sheamus
CLASH OF CHAMPIONS 2016: