Two weeks after SmackDown Live had it’s first WWE Network special event of the new brand split era, Monday Night Raw gets its chance to shine with Clash of Champions, appropriating an old WCW special name (and dropping a “the”as well). Some quick thoughts about the show as it happens
The pre-show panel is calling this the first-ever Red Brand event, completely ignoring everything from 2002-2007. But that’s ok. Everyone on the internet is fact checking them and nit picking. I guess I’m just going to join in.
Alicia Fox vs. Nia Jax – Fox was the veteran woman chosen to be the sacrificial lamb to the monster Nia Jax, who has been beating enhancement talent since coming up to Raw from NXT. Foxy got a little bit of offense in, but it was just a bit of an extended squash to give Jax more credibility as a monster. Nothing special, but nothing terrible, either.
Clash of Champions Main Show
Every Raw title is on the line, and we start off with the Tag Team Titles.
WWE Tag Team Championship: The New Day (c) vs. Anderson and Gallows – We start with an IWGP Tag Team Title reference, as Anderson and Gallows look to be the third team to hold that title and a WWE Tag titles, joining the Dudleyz and the Steiner Bros. Kofi Kingston and Big E are representing New Day, as usual. Anderson and Gallows dominate the match but can’t overcome the extra man advantage of Xavier Woods, who uses his trombone to give New Day the advantage and the win. I thought for sure this was the night New Day’s tag title reign came to an end, but they’ll hit 400 days with the belts at Raw tomorrow night.
WWE Cruiserweight Championship: TJ Perkins (c) vs. Brian Kendrick – I’m still not sure why Brian Kendrick got the first shot at the new Cruiserweight title, unless this is their way of giving him a “Lifetime Achievement Award” here. I do like the touch of turning everything purple for the match. The little aesthetic things are nice. Kendrick puts up a good fight, but the right man wins out as Perkins picks up the W. Kendrick attacking Perkins after the win was a nice touch, but there are much better challengers out there for Perkins, so I hope this feud doesn’t continue.
Best of Seven Final: Sheamus vs. Cesaro – The winner here gets a nebulous future title match. Sheamus started with a 3-0 advantage and Cesaro fought back to tie it. People can say Sheamus is boring all they want, but put him in there against someone who he can be a little stiff with, and his matches can be stellar, like here with Cesaro. It’s just a shame they went with the draw for an ending, which prolongs the feud and holds off whatever title match one of them was supposed to get. I would have rathered a Cesaro win here.
Sami Zayn vs. Chris Jericho – The only match without some sort of title implications here. Jericho has been teaming with Kevin Owens, the new Universal Champion and arch-nemesis of Sami Zayn, which is all you need for some build-up. Jericho also happens to be one of the best characters on Raw right now, so I’m glad they bothered to pair him with Zayn on this show. Zayn is the ultimate underdog, and it seems like he can lose every day and twice on Sundays and it doesn’t really hurt him, so putting up a fight but coming up short against the legend is a fitting end to the match. Jericho wins with the Code Breaker and likely keeps Zayn that much further from Owens.
If I never see this Ziggler-Miz KFC commercial again, where Ziggler is dressed as Col. Sanders, it will be too soon.
WWE Women’s Title: Charlotte (c) vs. Sasha Banks vs. Bayley – Charlotte regained the Women’s Title from Banks at SummerSlam. Bayley, the popular NXT Woman’s champ came up to Raw as Banks was supposedly injured. Banks’ quick return muddled up the top of the Women’s division as Banks doesn’t get to finish her story with Charlotte one-on-one. But all three have history down at NXT, and they can all have a good match together.
A fantastic triple threat match, with very little down-time. Sasha and Bayley hold their own, but Charlotte is such an imposing figure as champion. And as the daughter of the “Dirtiest Player in the Game,” she knows how to use every trick in the book. Her protege, Dana Brooke, kept her in the match as Banks was putting everyone in her finishing hold, the Banks Statement, and Charlotte manages to get the win when Bayley knocks Sasha out of the ring and gets rolled up. Might be the match of the night so far.
United States Championship: Rusev (c) vs. Roman Reigns – Rusev is one of the other reasons to watch Raw every week, as he’s quickly become one of the most charismatic characters in WWE. And his feud with Roman Reigns, who has been shunted down the card after a failed run on top and a PED suspension, has actually helped to make Reigns a better part of the show.
Putting Reigns in the US Title picture and having him chase the monster Rusev is what they should have done in the first place, as he needed to be seen as earning his World Title status when there were more popular guys who could have had the belt. Rusev’s manager, Lana, who is great in her role, tried to get her man disqualified by pulling the referee outof the ring during a Reigns pin attempt, but she was kicked out of the ringside area instead, allowing the match to continue. Classic bit that doesn’t get used enough.
Reigns powers out of Rusev’s finisher and manages to hit a spear to get the win. I would rather have seen Rusev keep the belt because Reigns really doesn’t need it, but I can see the argument for putting it on Reigns as they rehab his image. We’ll get a rematch next month at Hell in a Cell and then, maybe, Rusev can get moved up into the main event scene.
WWE Universal Title: Kevin Owens (c) vs. Seth Rollins – When Owens won the Universal Title, it was after WWE Chief Operating Officer Triple H hit Rollins with a Pedigree. So, no matter how long this match lasts, the expectation is when – not if – Triple H comes back out to act again. He hasn’t been seen since Owens won the belt and his wife, Stephanie McMahon, has been cagey about why he attacked his former cohort.
After some really great high-energy matches, the Owens-Rollins match seems like it really slowed down the pace of the show. We’re approaching 11 pm and what’s supposed to be the end of the show, and these guys are in mid-match form. They really don’t need these overruns on a B-level Network special. Nice sequence of kicks, though.
Instead of Triple H, we get an appearance by Jericho, who gets Owens’ foot on the ropes after Rollins hit a Pedigree and eventually, Rollins accidentally knocks out the referee. All the shenanigans lead to a new referee being sent down by Stephanie McMahon, who gave a look down to the ring when Owens eventually pins Rollins to retain his title. Still no resolution on the Triple H front and now we have MORE questions about whether Stephanie is going back to the heel ways.
Overall, a good show, although I don’t think the main event delivered as well as some of the undercard matches. Still worth a watch, though.
What did you think of the show? Hit me up on twitter, @Casual_Geekery and voice your opinion!