by Scott Saffran
WWE Clash of Champions was, as the WWE wants you to think, the FIRST EVER RAW EXCLUSIVE PAYPERVIEW! It wasn’t, not by a long shot. But it was a pay-per-view, and it was definitely a Raw exclusive. Much more of a roller coaster ride than its SmackDown brethren (for better or for worse), let’s take a rundown of the 4 Best and 4 Worst things about our first Raw PPV of 2016.
4 Worst Things
Clash of Champions
In typical WWE fashion, the ‘theme’ of this pay-per-view was about as much of a waste as it could have been. Neglecting that no champions actually clashed, the fact that only one out of a possible five belts actually changed hands was just…well…exhausting. These events can often be tests of stamina. And with a card of predictable retentions, practically no surprises, and one sole ‘celebration’ there is just no pump of excitement to push through the enduring three-plus hours. I can’t condemn WWE for not pushing title changes as there weren’t many that could have justifiably passed, but pushing this theme upon us at this point in time may not have been the slickest of maneuvers.
Rusev vs. Roman Reigns
It wasn’t a bad match, but it just did not succeed where it could have. Roman Reigns is not a sympathetic figure, and he’s just not cool enough to slide by on bad-a$$ery alone. And he certainly cannot succeed in either if he isn’t allowed to pursue either path. The bout with Rusev was a middling affair that pushed Roman as a dominant force to be reckoned with against, well, a similarly portrayed dominant force, but without any sort of thrilling knock-down-drag-out action. I will continue to say it until I’m blue in the face: Roman Reigns will not appeal on the whole until there is some reason to get behind him. If the WWE copy-pasted the WrestleMania 17 Bret/Austin finish here, I honestly wouldn’t have been upset or perturbed. Pinning the title on him in decidedly uneventful fashion is just a waste of potential.
Cesaro vs. Sheamus – The Finish
Let me be crystal clear: I understand why this finish was chosen. I understand the storyline importance and the relevance to keeping the feud alive. With all that in consideration I can still say it was the wrong finish. A proper finish ought not to carry on the story in the proper manner, but it must (I believe above all) conclude the preceding match in appropriate fashion. Cesaro vs. Sheamus was nothing short of excellent. This false finish ripped away the perfect bow that the match deserved.
New Day vs. The Club
Following the trend of not actually being a truly bad, this match gets the nod because it was just didn’t feel like the natural match and natural finish to come out of this feud. The Club started off hot, which was fantastic. They really looked like a force to be reckoned with and a truly dominant pairing. But they lost because of a trombone strike to the head. At the hands of the New Day. Who are supposed to be faces? I don’t know. This angle is going nowhere at the speed of Mercury and is starting to bore me, which is terribly upsetting because this five-some comprises some of my favorite active talents. Please fix this, WWE.
4 Best Things
Women’s Title Triple Threat
These three really know how to put on a show. Charlotte radiates heel charisma and does a phenomenal job pushing her character in all facets of a wrestling match. Smack a picturesque moonsault on top of that and she is a true, through-and-through champion.
Bayley executed her immaculate ring prowess, surprising absolutely no one and did her job as a worthy second contender. Sasha’s mic work has been better in the past, but when she steps out for her entrance…well, she is a special kind of talent. I don’t mean to press past my bounds, but I’d equate it to seeing Hulk Hogan for the first time. All three put on a very entertaining match with several heart-stopping near finishes and a solid finish to keep the title on Charlotte and both contenders looking equally strong.
Cesaro vs. Sheamus – The Match Itself
Hey, remember when I was a stupid idiot and said this would be a snore fest? I’m really sorry, you guys. I was wrong. So…so…so very wrong. Cesaro and Sheamus pushed the bounds of a mid-card feud and delivered a terrific spectacle. I cannot commend the mix of technical and spot wrestling enough. The dueling submissions, pulse-pounding turnbuckle wars, the 619! I don’t know what Cesaro was thinking with that suicide dive, but it was unparalleled across the night in delivering pure, throttling entertainment. I quite literally fell out of my chair. A hearty bravo to both men.
Kevin Owens and Chris Jericho
The Greatest Canadians and Best of Friends are simply the best and most talented entertainers in the WWE right now. In their individual matches and together once Jericho intervened in the main event, the two produce a stunning amount of genuine joy that had been painfully lacking for many years around the beginning of the decade. From the little moments like screeching “Ask Him!” when applying a chinlock to chases around and through the ring, Jericho and Owens just know how to rile up the audience and turn a sporting contest into a well-balanced bout of sports entertainment. At risk of exposing my obsessive fandom, it’s an honor to watch both men practice their craft.
TJ Perkins’ Entrance
A Superstar’s entrance won’t break his career, and it may not necessarily make it, but if it’s memorable it puts him at a stark advantage. A retro video game-inspired walkout for TJ Perkins took this promising athlete and made him a can’t-miss attraction. If you missed it, it’s worth the watch. Much praise to the minds behind it.
Well, Clash of Champions happened and no one can take that away from the WWE. It was a rather predictable night with a rash of odd and annoying finishes and a copious amount of wasted potential. It was not a bad PPV by any means, but one that leaves me yearning for what could have been. Hell In A Cell will be an improvement, as more time will be afforded to developing some of these feuds.
Counting Roman’s win, this is a 50% for me. Not too shabby for a lot of really hopeful predicting in my preview.
Photo Credit: WWE.com