Maybe I’m mistaken but I thought Clash of Champions would have the champions from the RAW and Smackdown brands fighting it out and the pay-per-view which had all the belts defended was called Night of Champions? Then again, it doesn’t really matter as the WWE’s reason for naming a particular show changes from reason to reason. I mean, does anyone remember Bragging Rights and No Way Out? Haven’t seen those in a while!
Anyway, this year’s Clash of Champions was all about title defenses so no Rollins vs. Mysterio (thank the gods!) or anything like that. This was also the first pay-per-view match of the new heel Roman Reigns persona, which should be interesting. So, without further ado, let’s go see what happened at this year’s
Night Clash of Champions!
In fact, let’s go talk about the Roman Reigns vs. Jey Uso match for the WWE Universal Championship. To me, this was the selling point as, although the Big Dog – I mean, the Tribal Chief – has been on TV for weeks now, fans weren’t sure if he was still a face or a heel after aligning himself with Paul Heyman. Now that this has cleared up and, yes, the WWE finally pulled the trigger and made him a bad guy, I wanted to see him in action in his new persona.
The match itself was okay and nothing spectacular. However, it did feature the new heel attitude of Roman Reigns. He’s now more cocksure of his power while also behaving more like a methodical bully with his beatdowns. It does suit him very well. I didn’t expect Jey Uso to even have a chance of winning as this was technically a match to enhance the new bad Reigns and, well, he did a good job enhancing this new dangerous version of the Tribal Chief. He got the usual underdog comeback moments and he got his time to shine. Even so, there was just no way he was going to win and, well, there weren’t any real highlights to mention.
I do like the finish of the match as it was good in-ring storytelling. Jey Uso nailed a samoan splash on Reigns and tried to get the pinfall victory. Reigns did kick out but, as he tried to get his shoulder up, he also connected with a low blow. Was this by accident or intentional? Like I said, good storytelling.
After some trash talking and ordering Jey Uso to acknowledge him as the “tribal chief,” Reigns pretty much pummeled his cousin. Jimmy Uso then went down the ramp to plead with his brother to just quit the match. After another beatdown, Jimmy had no choice but to throw in the towel and hand Roman Reigns the win. Jimmy then begrudgingly acknowledges Reigns as “the tribal chief” to close out the match.
While the match itself wasn’t spectacular, it did excel in the storytelling part. It does cement Roman Reigns as Smackdown’s biggest heel for now and totally sells him being more ruthless than ever before.
Since we just talked about Smackdown’s biggest prize, we might as well talk about Drew McIntyre vs. Randy Orton in an Ambulance match for the WWE World Championsip. Now, I’m going to be biased as I loathe Ambulance matches but I was willing to be surprised. Sadly, I was not and I just didn’t enjoy it.
The main issue I have with Ambulance matches is the entire premise. You have to drag the opponent into the back of an ambulance and close the doors to win. I guess it’s to signify that you beat up the opponent so much, they had to be wheeled into an ambulance. Haha? Anyway, like a lot of previous ambulance matches, there was a lot of interference but, in an odd twist, the ones interfering were gunning for Randy Orton, the bad guy! I’m sorry but this made Drew McIntyle look like a chump! Randy Orton had The Big Show slam him through a table, tossed into catering by Christian and superkicked off the top of the ambulance to the floor by Shawn Michaels!
Anyway, Randy Orton still manages to rally after the superkick and even hit the RKO on McIntyre! The Scottish Psychopath manages to get out of the ambulance in time and nail a Claymore kick. Drew dumps his foe into the back of the ambulance but gives him a punt kick for good measure before closing the doors and winning the match to retain his WWE World Championship. Like I said, I hated this match as Drew needed help from 3 other guys and he almost couldn’t get the job done, which made him come off as weak.
I might as well lump in the Women’s matches since they both involve Asuka. I thought the match for the RAW Women’s Championship, which pitted Asuka against Zelina Vega was better than expected. I didn’t expect Zelina Vega to win the RAW Women’s Championship but at least there were moments when I was second guessing myself. However, most of Vega’s offense did look too planned out and choerographed, sadly. Asuka tried her best to sell the moves but they still came off as stilted.
My first guess was ultimately right as the finish saw Asuka reversing a springboard kick by Zelina Vega into an Asuka Lock. Vega immediately taps out and Asuka retains her RAW Women’s title. Asuka tries to show respect by extending her hand but Vega bows to her instead. Zelina Vega does show her true colors as she blindsides The Empress of Tomorrow before running away. Not a stellar match by any stretch of the imagination but it’s great for Vega as she finally got to show what she can do… even if the execution was a little wooden.
The next Asuka match wasn’t supposed to happen as she was a surprise opponent for the Smackdown Women’s Champion, Bayley. It started with Bayley gloating that her scheduled opponent, Nikki Cross, wasn’t cleared to wrestle so she wanted the referee to declare her the default victor. This is when Asuka stepped in and we had our match. Nothing really happened as Bayley took the cheap way out by striking Asuka with a chair to get her disqualified. The match wasn’t the story anyway because Sasha Banks came out of nowhere to attack Bayley, fueling the feud between the former best friends. Like I said, the match itself wasn’t important; what was is furthering the storyline between Bayley and Sasha Banks.
Since we did talk about Zelina Vega for a bit, I guess we should talk about Andrade and Angel Garza’s match with The Street Profits for the RAW Tag Team Championships. While they’ve fought several times before, this match did feel much better without the entire Zelina Vega being a distraction story and we did get to see Andrade and Angel Garza step things up a little this time around. There wasn’t anything revolutionary about the fight but the intensity did come off better here.
As good as this match was, I can’t say it was all that great because of the screwy, but understandable in retrospect, finish. Angelo Dawkins gets the hot tag from Montez Ford and goes on a rampage. He nails Andrade with the Anointment slam and the referee counts to 3 even though Andrade clearly got his shoulder up in time. It turns out the referee decided to end the match early because Andrade was seriously hurt. So, yeah. I hate the finish but I understand why it went down the way it did.
We now have to talk about the match for the United States Championship between Bobby Lashley and Apollo Crews. I do like how the WWE is giving a slight push to Apollo Crews as he does have the athletic ability to become a star in the company and pitting him in a feud with The Hurt Business feels strangely right. The match itself was just okay, however. It felt like a match I would see on either RAW or Smackdown, honestly. Nothing really big and the intensity didn’t scream pay-per-view to me. Even with that said, Apollo Crews looked impressive as usual.
The finish came after Apollo Crews connected with a picture perfect frog splash, which Bobby Lashley kicks out of. Lashley recovers and nails a sky high chokeslam on Crews before locking in the Hurt Lock full nelson for the submission victory and to retain his United States Championship. Pretty standard match which was fun to watch but I do wish they would push this feud a little bit more as it feels like it’s stagnant now.
We do come to the best match from Clash of Champions and it actually was the first match of the night: the Ladder match for the Intercontinental Championship featuring Jeff Hardy, Sami Zayn and AJ Styles. In retrospect, with the caliber of the talent in this particular ladder match, was there any doubt this wouldn’t be great?
There were the obligatory stunts and big spots and there wasn’t anything particularly unique about them in this Ladder match. These were all spots we’ve seen before but it’s still quite awesome to see Jeff Hardy launch himself into the air from the top of a ladder and smash someone like Sami Zayn through another ladder!
The finish, however, was rather unique and a little too complex. Sami Zayn used the entire No DQ rules for Ladder matches to his favor by trying to handcuff his opponents to various objects. He locked Jeff Hardy (using his earlobe!) to a ladder to the outside. He then tried to do the same to AJ Styles but to the bottom rope but The Phenomenal One fought back and nailed a superplex to Zayn. When both of them recovered, Zayn managed to handcuff himself to Styles to prevent him from climbing up to get the belt!
Styles still tried to climb the ladder by carrying Zayn on his shoulders but Hardy (with his earlobe still handcuffed to a ladder) tried to stop him. Zayn used the distraction to unlock himself from the cuffs and then handcuffed Styles to the ladder. Zayn then climbed to the top of the ladder unimpeded to win the Intercontinental Championship! This was easily my favorite match of the night. I will say the finish was too elaborate but, since it was something different and executed well, I will say it generally worked.
Overall, I will say this year’s Clash of Champions was a good watch. While no title changes happened, the matches themselves were mostly fun and there wasn’t a single disastrous bout throughout the card.
What did you think of this year’s Clash of Champions pay-per-view event? Let me know in the comments section below!