There is always plenty to take away from a WWE pay-per-view event, but Clash of Champions was being observed for more than just the monthly payoff matches.
Following SmackDown producing an excellent first event in Backlash two weeks prior, Clash of Champions would be Raw’s first stand-alone special since the WWE roster was once again split in half during July’s brand extension.
Backlash was a complete success in every sense, continuing the welcome change in creative direction that has seen the blue brand close the gap in the very real ratings battle between the dueling shows. Though neither show seems to be doing fantastically at the moment.
With Backlash still fresh in our minds, Raw would have to produce something special to top SmackDown’s efforts, and it wasn’t looking likely when the final Clash of Champions card was produced.
Although the Universal Championship match between Kevin Owens and Seth Rollins was certainly appetizing, the rest of the card was largely comprised of the same old match-ups we’ve viewed for long enough now.
With all eyes on Clash of Champions, Raw was afforded a great opportunity to intrigue the viewers and stop the downward trend that saw the Monday night program post its lowest non-holiday TV rating in nearly 20 years.
These are 15 things we learned from WWE Clash of Champions.
15. Alicia Fox Is Redundant
Alicia Fox’s match against upcoming powerhouse Nia Jax on the Clash of Champions Kickoff Show went exactly as expected, with Jax dominating for the majority of the bout on the way to claiming victory. Although we could see it coming from a mile away, the result confirms Fox’s lowly status within WWE.
To date, Jax had only claimed victories against hired jobbers and predictably had her way. It would inevitably come time for Jax to bully an opponent with a familiar name, as is the trend when building ‘unstoppable’ forces, and unfortunately that duty fell to Fox.
While just about every other woman on the roster is flourishing in one way or another, WWE has essentially thrown Alicia Fox in the same pile as the aforementioned nameless jobbers. Now that she is viewed as a throwaway competitor, it’s hard to imagine Fox will have any impact in the company going forward.
14. The New Day/Anderson And Gallows Have Insane Chemistry
From a personal standpoint, the Tag Team Championship between Anderson and Gallows and champions The New Day did not look appealing at all. It’s a match-up that has been done to death in some form or another, and although those bouts were mildly entertaining, another contest was becoming overkill.
In what came as a pleasant surprise, the feuding groups pulled out a match from the top drawer, displaying an unexpected rapid pace and a number of false finishes to keep fans on edge.
It goes to show that both The New Day and Gallows/Anderson have fantastic chemistry together, as the match was completely different to anything they had done in numerous prior meetings. It might be time for new challengers to the Raw Tag Team Titles, but it would be interesting to see how they can again change things up in another clash down the track.
13. The New Day Is The Greatest Tag Team Since The Turn Of The Millennium
It’s a big call, but it’s hard to deny that The New Day has cemented themselves as the greatest tag team since the year ticked over to 2000 – at the very least.
The new millennium has brought about countless incredible tag teams, but none quite match up to what The New Day has achieved. By the time the following night’s episode of Raw goes on the air, the trio of Kofi Kingston, Xavier Woods and Big E will have held the Tag Team Championships for 400 days, the second-longest reign in WWE history.
Further than sustaining an incredible run at the top of the division, The New Day is a merchandise juggernaut that has the WWE Universe firmly on the its side. What’s even more exciting is that the group’s momentum doesn’t appear to be slowing down any time soon.
12. TJ Perkins’ Entrance Package Is Amazing
If you weren’t fortunate enough to catch the Cruiserweight Classic, not only did you miss out on some unbelievable in-ring action, you missed TJ Perkins’ adorable entrance.
Maybe it’s the inner nerd coming out, but TJ Perkins’ video game entrance is as cool as they come. From the cartoonish theme song to the old school Tekken-esque tron display, TJ will have won the hearts of many upon their first viewing.
Not that his entrance is the main attraction when it comes to Perkins; the newly-crowned Cruiserweight Champion showed exactly why he was deserving of the spot in a thrilling back-and-forth contest against Brian Kendrick. However, that simple video game throwback entrance is enough to have plenty of fans sold.
11. The Cruiserweight Division Is Legit
The Cruiserweight Championship match between champion TJ Perkins and challenger Brian Kendrick erased any thoughts that the Cruiserweight Division will be little more than a sideshow. It is 100% for real.
The concern was that the talented roster of cruiserweights would be resigned to second-class Superstars, much in the same vein as the WCW division and the later embarrassment that was WWE’s attempt.
That concern can be completely thrown out the window, as WWE went above and beyond to present the division in the best light. The two competitors did their part to put on a fantastic showing, and it was topped off by the creative team putting in place a potential storyline for the future, a facet the former Cruiserweight Division sorely lacked.
10. A Best-Of-Seven Series Is Never A Good Idea
Okay, so maybe this was learned a little earlier than Clash of Champions. The final match between Cesaro and Sheamus was breathtaking to say the least, but the unforgettable contest was somewhat dampened by six relatively needless matches in the lead-up and a terrible conclusion to make matters worse.
The execution of the series was relatively poor considering Sheamus was 3-0 up with the perfect amount of time left for Cesaro to force a tie in time for CoC – any wonder what was going to happen? Regardless of how the series panned out, having the same match be repeated for almost two months is never a good idea.
Sure, a shot at the Universal Championship was at stake, but the same bout seven times in a row (six televised) is going to bore fans even if the title itself is on the line, especially when there is no decisive result at the end.
9. Match Seven Will Surely Be Repeated
It’s uncertain whether the finish to Cesaro and Sheamus’ unbelievable match was planned or not, but there is no way WWE will allow the long best-of-seven series end in a no-contest draw.
Following Cesaro’s clothesline over the barricade, the match was brought to an abrupt halt due to concerns over the Swiss Superman’s potentially damaged arm. Despite Cesaro’s obvious protests to medical staff, the match was thrown out after what had been an unexpectedly magnificent contest.
It appeared as though Cesaro’s angry response to the decision was legitimate, as well as the injury that brought about the unpopular decision to end the match before it reached a result. Surely we will get a rematch pending Cesaro’s health.
8. Chris Jericho And Sami Zayn Can Produce Awesome Matches With Anyone
Alright, so it’s another one we didn’t just learn, but this is certainly a fact that was carved in stone after Chris Jericho and Sami Zayn put on a clinic at Clash of Champions.
The middle of the show is a dangerous time to produce a throwaway match, especially during a pay-per-view in front of a very smarky Indianapolis crowd. However, Y2J and Zayn used the opportunity to not only keep the fans fully entertained but to prove a point they have made many times over their careers: they can each work with absolutely anyone.
Of all the matches on the card, this was the one that lacked the most substance and would require a captivating in-ring performance from both competitors. Luckily for WWE, the two men faced with the task are two of the absolute best at producing attention-grabbing matches.
7. Raw’s Top Women Are Way Above SmackDown’s
No disrespect to the SmackDown Women’s Division, which is filled to the brim with some exceptional performers, but the Triple Threat Match for the Raw Women’s Championship between Charlotte, Sasha Banks and Bailey proved that Raw’s top women are way ahead.
It must be exciting for Raw’s creative team to know they can throw any of the three aforementioned women in the ring and they can produce magic, as was the case at Clash of Champions. There is always a match that steals the show – this was it.
6. WWE Is Still Aboard The Charlotte Train
It looked as though WWE would look to share the spotlight in the Raw Women’s Division when Sasha Banks broke Charlotte’s 309-day title reign, but Flair’s successful Women’s Championship defence at Clash of Champions proves that is definitely not the case.
Despite criticism from some members of the WWE Universe, Charlotte is the best heel woman in the company. Even considering the popularity of the likes of Banks and Bayley, Charlotte is still the top candidate to take the division forward.
Although Banks’ short title run could have been the beginning of a new championship picture, WWE proved it is not willing to give up on its investment in Charlotte just yet. Her pay-per-view title defence record improving to 12-0 will only help propel her as a detestable heel.
5. WWE Holds Nothing Against Roman Reigns
As unpopular as Roman Reigns is with the ‘smart’ members of the WWE Universe, it would have been a real shame to see what is an extremely promising career be derailed because of a single misdemeanour.
Although WWE didn’t actively hold Reigns back since his return from a drug violation, it was clear to see the company wasn’t willing to push him quite as hard as it had done over the past 12 months.
Reigns’ United States Championship victory over Rusev dispels any thoughts that WWE has lost faith in Reigns. In fact, allowing him to take a minor championship and slowly build his way back up to the main event picture is the best thing that could possibly happen to him.
4. Seth Rollins Is A Bona Fide Good Guy
If it looks like a babyface and sounds like a babyface, it’s a babyface.
Seth Rollins has played the role of the betrayed victim looking for revenge in his feud with Kevin Owens, a stance that could have been perceived as more of a ‘tweener’ until Clash of Champions. However, Rollins’ battle with KO for the Universal Championship left no doubt that The Architect is now a good guy.
It’s assumed that Seth Rollins is headed for an eventual match with Triple H, so the turn is a necessary one for the match to make sense. What he does in the short-term, however, will be particularly interesting, as Rollins has adopted a heel stance for the majority of his WWE career.
3. A Huge Stephanie McMahon-Seth Rollins Confrontation Is Coming
After the dubious finish to the Clash of Champions main event, the tension between Raw Commissioner Stephanie McMahon and Seth Rollins only continues to thicken.
With the referee flat on his back, Rollins appeared to have the Universal Championship won. A replacement referee was eventually sent out by Steph after a suspiciously long wait, just in time for Kevin Owens to flip the script and the routine first title defence.
Although there as no appearance by Stephanie’s husband Triple H – to the dismay of the live audience – the suspect timing of the replacement ref’s deployment is sure to bring about a vicious response from Rollins on Raw. Hopefully we won’t have to wait much longer until The Game joins the fray.
2. Raw’s Pay-Per-View Booking Leaves A Lot To Be Desired
Raw’s first pay-per-view effort following the brand split wasn’t a failure, but it wasn’t what you’d classify as a success either. It was passable solely due to the efforts of the talent at hand.
WWE received criticism for the Clash of Champions card that left a lot to be desired. Although we are only two months removed from the draft, Raw continues to produce match-ups we’ve seen time and time again.
CoC gets a pass mark because of the deep roster’s efforts, who were collectively at the top of their games to make every match as exciting as the last. However, it seems odd that WWE requests its Superstars give everything they have to win the ratings war when it isn’t willing to do the same with its booking.
1. SmackDown Wins Round One Of The Pay-Per-View Battle
Whether Raw or SmackDown put on a better event the first time up following the brand split is mostly in the eye of the beholder. However, when pitting the two directly against each other, Backlash comes out on top in this author’s opinion.
Raw’s Clash of Champions was enjoyable simply because of the star power of the wrestlers involved. It wasn’t a bad show thanks to the efforts of the performers, but as was previously mentioned, the booking was not up to scratch.
On the other hand, Backlash wins the vote for its enjoyability factor. Although Raw had more top tier stars, SmackDown was all about having fun and feel-good moments that WWE fans live for. Clash of Champions didn’t provide that aspect.