WWE Clash of Champions 2016 Commentary

WWE Clash of Champions 2016 Commentary

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…

Cesaro neck.png

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.

Final Thoughts:

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

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WWE Backlash 2016 Commentary

WWE Backlash 2016 Commentary

For the first time since 2009, the Backlash pay per view returns to our screens in a Smackdown exclusive show, which in itself is the first brand exclusive pay per view since February 2007. Since the brand extension two months ago, Smackdown has been running a steady ship while over at Raw it’s been peaks and valleys, with amazing moments and matches being followed up poorly. Smackdown definitely benefits from it’s two hour format, forcing all stories to be told in a short and snappy manner. After a poor showing at SummerSlam in comparison to Raw, Smackdown has the honour of producing the first brand exclusive event in this new era and if I’m being honest, it could go either way. Let’s press on and see if the blue brand can deliver.

With Charlotte being the owner of the original Women’s Championship over on Raw, Smackdown had to create their own Women’s Championship. The biggest compliment I can give Smackdown is their use of every single woman in the division. Over on Raw you have the likes of Summer Rae and Alicia Fox who are barely seen, while Smackdown uses every single one of theirs in an effective capacity more often than not. Tonight Nikki Bella, Becky Lynch, Carmella, Alexa Bliss, Natalya and Naomi will compete in a six person elimination match to determine the first Smackdown Women’s Champion. The only woman not included in the match is Eva Marie, who is still relaxing in the British Isles due to the hostility of WWE fans. In reality, she’s still suspended for her first violation of the Wellness Policy. Both excuses are glorious in their own way. Who is walking away with the championship?

When you have six people in a single match it’s going to look like a mess, thankfully this match was given the time to execute it correctly. Gone are the days where the women were put in a fourteen person sudden death match and given five minutes to get everyone’s stuff in. These six women had around fifteen minutes and we didn’t even get our first elimination until ten minutes in. Eventually Becky Lynch made Carmella tap out and was the last woman standing, becoming the first ever Smackdown Women’s Champion. Becky is interviewed in the ring immediately after and she’s so thankful and awkward it’s all kinds of adorable.

As expected, this match was chaotic but I would say it was organised chaos. Naomi was particularly impressive hitting so many high risk moves, it’s a shame her elimination was a little lackluster. Despite being eliminated first, Alexa Bliss still looked like a star. It took a powerbomb/super neckbreaker combo in order to take her out of the match, can you imagine any of this happening three years ago? This was the perfect match to kick off the show, well done to all involved.

In another case of the original championship being on Raw, Smackdown needed to create their own Tag Team titles and we’ve been having a tournament over the last few weeks to crown the first ever champions. American Alpha had originally won themselves the right to compete in the finals by defeating The Usos last week in around thirty seconds, but following a post-match attack and a wonderfully executed heel turn by The Usos, they’ve put American Alpha out of contention due to an injury to Chad Gable. The Usos will now face the painfully annoying Hype Bros tonight with the winner going on to face Rhyno & Heath Slater (no, seriously) in the finals.

Due to their recent turn to the dark side, The Usos have stopped doing their war dance at the start of their entrance, they wear black and no longer wear face paint, despite the screen still displaying the phrase “Play hard in the paint” which never made sense to begin with. They wore paint, they never played in it. Regardless, let’s get that seen too as quickly as possible. The only thing that doesn’t need changing is their music, I feel it works for them both as faces or heels. The Usos defeated The Hype Bros because they’re awful in every way, moving on.

The Miz is defending his Intercontinental Championship against Dolph Ziggler, for what reason I don’t know. Since Dolph Ziggler lost his WWE Championship match he said he couldn’t afford to lose at SummerSlam, he hasn’t actually won a match. So the only reason he actually has a title opportunity is because he got in The Miz’s face a few weeks ago. Meanwhile, The Miz cut the promo of his career on Daniel Bryan and because there is no way you can satisfyingly follow up on that story without Daniel Bryan wrestling, they had to steer in a different direction and it just so happened Dolph Ziggler was available. Can Dolph finally get the win that matters or will The Miz continue the best run of his career?

Holy cow was this match good. Going almost twenty minutes, Dolph Ziggler put on his best match in a really long time. The Miz busted out some new moves and even mocked Daniel Bryan by doing some of his signature moves. Maryse continues to be one of the biggest assets to Miz’s character, she sprayed something in Ziggler’s eyes which allowed The Miz to take advantage and pick up the victory. Unquestionably the right decision here and it was done in a way that makes Dolph’s loss look like it wasn’t his fault.

In a match that is only happening because they need to fill out the card somehow, Randy Orton is facing Bray Wyatt. Following Orton’s bloody loss to Brock Lesnar at SummerSlam, Bray Wyatt confronted him and cut the standard spooky Wyatt promo that no-one remembers because it all more or less has the same message as every single one he’s done over the last three years. Can I be honest? I’ve given up on Bray Wyatt. Outside of defeating Daniel Bryan at the Royal Rumble in 2014, name me one important thing he’s done. It’s the same formula, Bray sets his sights on a new target, delivers spooky promos, loses the match, finds a new target and repeats. I want Bray Wyatt to be an important and effective character and if he still isn’t after over three years, he’s not going to be. So I’m sorry if I don’t give a damn about this match. Anyway, who wins between The Viper and The Eater of Worlds?

The match doesn’t actually happen because Bray attacked Orton backstage, so Wyatt wins by forfeit. Bray Wyatt still has to wrestle tonight though, he is in a No Holds Barred match against Kane. Oh, goodie. This match was so dull it’s unbelievable. In fairness there was a cool little moment where Bray Wyatt hits a senton on Kane through the announce table. But Randy Orton comes out, RKO’s Wyatt and allows Kane to hit the chokeslam for the victory. Even in BOTH scenarios, Bray Wyatt still loses. It would be hilarious if it wasn’t painfully annoying.

Moving on to the finals of the Tag Team Championship Tournament, The Usos who won earlier in the night are facing the new team of Heath Slater & Rhyno. I, like many regular Smackdown viewers, can’t really explain why Heath Slater & Rhyno are just perfect together. Heath has been clamouring for a contract since he was left out of the draft in July. Since then he’s been involved in so many ridiculous segments in the lead up to this big match, like the time we met Heath Slater’s wife, Beulah. It’s weirdly endearing and the crowd is fully behind Heath as well.

The match itself wasn’t anything that would set your world on fire but it was fine for what it was. Despite being the illegal man, Rhyno gored Jimmy Uso and Heath Slater was able to crawl over and get the three count. Heath Slater has got himself a contract with Smackdown and more importantly, himself and Rhyno are the first ever Smackdown Tag Team Champions. I can’t see this reign lasting a particularly long time, but it’s nice to see Slater finally get his due. Heath Slater & Rhyno are champions in the year 2016, this is a weird world.

Dean Ambrose has been WWE champion for about three months and its been… Okay? He retained in The Shield Triple Threat at Battleground which was impressive, he then retained against Dolph Ziggler at SummerSlam which wasn’t as good. I’m slowly getting over the fact that the character I want Dean Ambrose to be isn’t what WWE wants him to be. Meanwhile, after AJ Styles defeated John Cena in a show stealer at SummerSlam, Styles rightly earned himself a WWE Championship opportunity tonight. Ambrose has been treading water as champion and Styles is on fire, so who takes home WWE’s oldest and richest prize?

This was a really good match between these two, probably the best match Dean Ambrose has had in a ridiculously long time because the best worst kept secret is that Dean Ambrose isn’t actually that great in the ring. It goes about twenty five minutes and my favourite part about this was that it wasn’t the standard pay per view main event where both men hit their finishers numerous times, to the point where it lessens the mystique of the move. On this occasion both men were so close to hitting their finishers numerous times, but couldn’t quite do it. AJ Styles’ had to resort to a low blow when the ref was down in order to hit the Styles Clash and pin Dean Ambrose. AJ Styles is the NEW WWE Champion. No doubt that this was the right call here, something about Dean Ambrose wasn’t quite working as champion and AJ Styles is having the run of his career at the moment.

The show comes to a close with an image that many thought they would never see…

AJ Champion.png

Final Thoughts:

You’ve got to hand it to Smackdown, despite the incredibly shaky start two months ago, they have managed to pull off a really entertaining first pay per view. If you take the Bray Wyatt and Kane fiasco off the show, you would have a near perfect show and this is a show that contained a Hype Bros match, just think about that. The opening match for the Women’s Championship was an exciting way to kick off the show, Backlash maintained its momentum with an incredible match between The Miz and Dolph Ziggler and finished off with a mighty fine WWE Championship match.

The first Backlash event in over seven years had a great beginning, middle and end and despite the little missteps a times, you can chalk this event up as a major success for the blue brand.

Final Rating: 8/10