Every year at Clash of Champions (from 2007-2015, it was Night of Champions) we’re told that it’s a very special night because every single championship will be defended, even though this happens more often than not, at every other pay per view that year. Despite my dislike for themed pay per views (outside of the Royal Rumble) at least this is a very simple premise. The title also makes it sounds like champions are facing each other instead of defending their titles. Anyway, this is a special Raw exclusive show and it’s the first Raw only pay per view since New Years Revolution way back in 2007. If it feels like there’s another pay per view happening every two weeks, it’s because that is exactly what’s happening. Smackdown’s No Mercy is in two weeks time. Being a consistent WWE fan is a part time job in of itself. So, let’s see how many new champions we get tonight.
To start off the show, The New Day are defending their Tag Team Championships against Gallows & Anderson. The build up to this match has been so poor it’s unbelievable. Initially, Gallows & Anderson were forced to try and match New Day with various comedy skits which didn’t fit them at all. Cards on the table, I did enjoy their very first doctor segment but WWE did what they do best and beat it to death. The worst of all was when they introduced older versions of The New Day from the future and it was probably the worst segment on Raw since Mini Gator vs. El Torito a few years ago. Since then, Gallows & Anderson are back to their serious ways, thank goodness.
The match starts quite aggressively from the challengers, taking out both Big E. and Xavier on the outside before powerbombing Kofi in the ring. It was quite refreshing actually seeing the challengers trying to surprise the champions by getting it done early. Despite the surprising start, quite a good back and forth match ensues and it looks like Gallows & Anderson are going to take the titles but Xavier hits Anderson with the trombone and New Day retain the titles. I personally would like to see The New Day beat Demolition’s record of 478 days, and tomorrow The New Day hit day 400. Can they hold on for almost another three months?
The Cruiserweight Classic was simply one of the best things the WWE has produced in the last ten years, unquestionably. Because of the success of the tournament, it has given us the return of the Cruiserweight Championship and thank god because I couldn’t handle Hornswoggle being the last champion anymore. TJ Perkins won the tournament, became the new Cruiserweight Champion and will make his main roster debut tonight when he defends against the returning Brian Kendrick who won a Fatal-4-Way on Raw to earn the opportunity.
TJ Perkins now comes out to this retro gamer sort of theme, full of Nintendo related sounds, it’s kind of amazing. The crowd are initially very into this match but they do die out a bit and I’m not sure why. It could be because they may have been expecting more of a flippy affair. There are also rumours going around that WWE have asked the cruiserweights to tone it down a bit in the ring. If that’s true, that’s cutting the division off at its legs before it can get going. With that being said, the match was quite good and TJ retained with his signature knee bar. After the match Brian Kendrick hugs Perkins and then head-butts him.
After match number one on the SummerSlam kick-off show, Sheamus and Cesaro continued their Best of Seven Series in matches that have all been pretty decent. Sheamus injured Cesaro in match number two which allowed him to take advantage and get a 3-0 lead, but Cesaro has fought back and we’re sitting at 3-3. The winner of this series will be rewarded with a “championship opportunity”, they haven’t specified which championship but I hope for their case it’s the Universal Championship. Imagine going through seven gruelling matches just to find out you’re going to get a Tag Team Championship match. Who’s going to come away with the victory and take out the series?
Hot damn was this match fantastic. A couple of years ago at Night of Champions, Sheamus and Cesaro had their best and highly underrated match and this one topped it. There was a scary moment when Cesaro dived through the ropes to the outside and landed right on his head. I was convinced he had broken his neck and you would too when you check out this landing…
Can we please stop people driving through the ropes? Big E. has nearly killed himself on many occasions, Sasha Banks landed badly a month ago and now Cesaro almost broke is neck, that was scary. The match continues with them kicking out of each others finishers and after they go over the barricade the referee decides to call off the match and the crowd in Indianapolis is NOT HAPPY. You don’t do a Best of Seven Series just for it to end in a no-contest, that’s not the purpose of them. A terrible ending to a brilliant match.
Despite beating Kevin Owens at Battleground and putting an emphatic end to their bitter rivalry (for now), Sami Zayn hasn’t really done anything. Meanwhile, Kevin Owens has gone on to become the new Universal Champion with thanks to Triple H. Also, Kevin’s new best friend Chris Jericho has been riding the coattails of his success according to Sami Zayn. On the Highlight Reel, Jericho teased Sami by asking if he had Kevin’s new number as if they’re in the middle of a petty feud in high school, it’s actually pretty great. Jericho hit Sami in the face with his phone and now we have this match.
Sadly, the terrible ending to the previous match took a bit of the wind out of the audience for this one. Sami Zayn and Chris Jericho put on a very good match, as you would expect from those two. Going a over fifteen minutes, Jericho hits a quick Codebreaker while Sami was coming to terms with a near fall and gets the win. If I know WWE like I do, my guess is that this will be the first in a series of matches between the two and they’ll only be fighting over bragging rights because that’s the only mid-card story WWE tells. Prove me wrong, WWE.
The women’s division on Raw has been a little chaotic, Sasha lost the championship to Charlotte at SummerSlam and took time off for injury. Bayley debuted and looked like she’d be the new challenger. Sasha came back early and won a Triple Threat to earn her already contractually obligated rematch, which turned out to be a double pin and now Bayley has been put in this match too. It’s Charlotte defending against Sasha Banks and Bayley in a Triple Threat. Even though all of this is happening, it feels like Sasha and Bayley are just bit parts in the Charlotte and Dana story where there is dissension all over the place. That’s a lot to take in over the last month or so, but who is walking away as Women’s Champion?
All three women put on a show tonight, I think my favourite thing about this new women’s division is the fact that they got fifteen minutes bell to bell and it’s not a big deal anymore, it’s just what is expected nowadays. Dana Brooke didn’t get involved too much which was nice, so her only being used sparingly help this match. Charlotte landed a double moonsault which I think is the first time I’ve ever seen a double aerial move landed in WWE, so that’s certainly something. Charlotte hit Bayley with a big boot to retain her title in a very hard fought match. Post WrestleMania, the women’s division was in a rough spot with Charlotte’s never ending feud with Natalya but it’s starting to pick up some steam now. I think Smackdown’s women’s division is better used as a group, but Raw has the better athletes.
Next up, Roman Reigns vs. Rusev for the United States Championship. It’s been a bit of a rough road for Roman Reigns since his Wellness Policy violation back in June, he lost his WWE Championship, he’s been losing a little more often and has been put in the mid-card. From the outset that looks like he’s been punished, but has he? Over the last few months he’s been closing Raw on a consistent basis and even beat the Universal Champion in a cage match on Raw last week. But since the brand split Reigns has been feuding with Rusev because apparently he just really doesn’t like newlyweds. Rusev is defending the honour of his wife, Lana after Reigns was responsible for ruining their wedding reception. But Rusev is the bad guy because we shouldn’t be cheering for foreigners apparently.
The match was perfectly fine for what it was, there was heightened drama with the near falls, Lana was ejected from ringside for interference. Also, Reigns winked at Lana before going on the attack at one point. What sort of scumbag winks? Not only at a married woman before continuing an assault on her husband, but just in general? Anyway, Roman and his twenty eight Superman Punch attempts and a couple of spears picked up the win to score his first ever United States Championship. Whether people want to hear it or not, Roman Reigns holding the US title does elevate it from the lows of Kalisto earlier this year. I do hope Rusev rebounds from this well and doesn’t go on the losing streak he went on when he lost the title to John Cena last year.
Main event time as Kevin Owens defends his newly won Universal Championship for the first time against Seth Rollins. Finn Balor had to relinquish the title due to an injury suffered in his match at SummerSlam. A new champion would be decided in a Fatal-4-Way elimination match and during the final three, Triple H made his first appearance since WrestleMania and took out Roman Reigns, the man who beat him for the WWE Championship at WrestleMania. Just when it looked like The Game was going to help his buddy of over two years, Seth Rollins, he hit him with the Pedigree and handed the Universal Title to Kevin Owens. We still don’t know why he did that as he hasn’t been seen since that night. Will Triple H make his presence felt again tonight?
The answer is bafflingly, no. The crowd didn’t really know what to do for this match and I don’t blame them, Seth Rollins is brand new into this transition of becoming a babyface after a solid two year run as the number one heel in the company and Kevin Owens is obviously a bad guy here. To put these two in a main event for almost half an hour with no bells and whistles was setting them up for failure. Thankfully, because Seth Rollins and Kevin Owens are so good they can overcome that and they still had a good match. The last ten minutes were when they definitely started to make you take notice. Chris Jericho interfered a number of times near the end and after the referee got knocked down, that allowed him to get in an attack on Rollins. Stephanie McMahon finally brought out a new referee, Seth got back into the ring and was floored with a pop-up powerbomb. Kevin Owens retains the title and the show fades to black.
That main event was certainly lacklustre. Four weeks ago when Triple H got involved with the title match people complained like “oh look, it’s still all about Triple H…” But this main event NEEDED The Game to be involved because now we’re just stretching this already overstretched story. We’ve been sitting through four weeks worth of Stephanie McMahon saying she didn’t know anything and trying to prove herself and everyone else speculating as to why Triple H did what he did. WWE has told that portion of the story for long enough, it’s time to move on to the next part, but instead they just keep the story exactly where it was four weeks ago.
Elsewhere, it felt like the entire night was filled with quality matches. The Cruiserweight and Women’s Championship matches were both great, the Tag Team Championship contest was short and snappy and Sami Zayn vs. Chris Jericho was very good too. Sheamus vs. Cesaro still leaves a bad taste in my mouth over the way it ended. Such an awesome, hard hitting match to end with a referee stoppage after a simple clothesline over the barrier made little to no sense.
*Cesaro lands on head*
Ref: “Nah, he’s good.”
*Sheamus jumps off the top rope, to the outside and gets hit with an uppercut*
Ref: “Nah, he’s good.”
*Both men softly fall over the barricade*
Ref: “STOP THE MATCH!”
Overall Clash of Champions from an in-ring perspective was a fantastic show, but unfortunately many issues with a number of the finishes stops this pay per view from being a great show. If you’re to compare how the red and blue brands are going simply based off of their first major shows, Smackdown’s Backlash trumps Raw’s Clash of Champions every time.
Final Rating: 6.5/10