With every title scheduled to be on the line, Clash of Champions promised a lot. But did it deliver? Courtesy of WWE Home Video, Matthew Roberts takes a look.
Unless you were being really pedantic, Clash of Champions is at least a WWE pay-per-view name that lives up to the billing. Ok, champions weren’t clashing but every Raw and Smackdown title was booked to be on the line (even if, in 2020’s case, not all titles could be defended here). And if sometimes that concept can back bookers into a corner, on this occasion it generally worked out ok.
Things kicked off with a three way ladder match for the Intercontinental Championship. The crux here was that Jeff Hardy was the champion. Except Sami Zayn, who never lost the title, also had a good claim to be a champion. AJ Styles had had a cup of coffee with the IC belt over the summer (defeating Daniel Bryan in a tournament final) before Hardy too it off him. That title change seemed designed to stick a babyface (Hardy) into the thick of things and give the opportunity for this to be a three-way.
In many ways it was your “typical” WWE ladder match with all the usual mad bumps and all that kind of stuff. But that’s not meant to be a criticsm. And to be fair, there were some original spots in there as well, not least the handcuffs stuff. For the safety of all concerned they could have shaved five minutes off this without losing any of the excitement and/or drama but, again, it would be churlish to criticise three guys going all out.
Asuka and Zelina Vega couldn’t follow that. Many fans who constantly bang on about “new faces” getting pushes and title shots nevertheless complained that Vega was getting a shot here because it wasn’t the new name that they wanted. If they took the blinkers off they should have been impressed with this match. Asuka, storyline wise, seemed to underestimate the challenger too and was toying with her opponent before a mistake (and a bump into the steel steps) enabled Vega to take a bit of control. She had some pretty impressive moves too. Of course, it wasn’t to lead to her title win but it did prove that Vega is someone who can be much more than a ringside manager.
Bobby Lashley and Apollo Crews’ battle over the United States Championship was another in their ongoing series. It was decent (much like their kickoff match at SummerSlam) without ever really getting into top gear and adding Ricochet at ringside, to counter MVP, didn’t change much. Similarly it seemed as if we’d had a never ending stretch of Street Profits going up against Andrade and Angel Garza. This one was building up nicely until an injury to Garza caused them to rush to a somewhat “botched” finish. There was no real excuse for the mess considering the finish didn’t even involve Garza. But that’s wrestling for you. It doesn’t always go to plan.
As the next segment showed as Bayley, who wouldn’t be facing scheduled opponent Nikki Cross, came out to cut a promo. She made the mistake of issuing an open challenge (which she immediately tried to rescind) which was answered by Asuka. Which seemed a little odd and self-defeating. Any number of under-used main roster competitors could have been called up to get a shot where, without wining, may have made a good impression in a losing effort. Maybe it just made more sense, given the global circumstances, for someone already there to have a match. It was something and nothing for four minutes until the intentional DQ finish. Maybe it was just to get us to a point where Sasha Banks could return, neck brace and all, to smash her former best friend and continue their feud. The post-match outshone the match itself for sure.
The WWE Championship Match that followed it between Drew McIntyre and Randy Orton seemed to split opinion. The Ambulance stipulation allowed The Big Show, Christian and Shawn Michaels to all get a modicum of revenge on Orton for his recent attacks on them. The reveal of Ric Flair driving the ambulance, which contained the defeated Orton away, was a great moment too. This all, however, made McIntyre “look weak” according to some fans. For me that’s perhaps over-thinking WWE in 2020. It was an entertaining match, the beloved babyfaces got their revenge and McIntyre ultimately retained his title in a win that was helped, but not directly provided, by those men who had an issue with Orton. My only real complaint is that this all felt like a natural end to their feud, which it most certainly proved not to be as quickly as the following night’s Raw.
Roman Reigns and Jey Uso had a lot to follow then in their WWE Universal Championship title match. To the surprise of some, but not me, they were up to the task. This was as much about the psychological and storylines than it was about the action, but it’s not to say that it skimped on the latter. They turned the lack of crowd into a plus point with their loud trash talking and this really had the impression of being a match that meant something more than just being a random title match. And I’m all for that.
Some changes close to card took a bit of momentum away from the event but on the whole this was a very entertaining night. It lulled a bit in the middle but with a fantastic open, two excellent men’s World title matches and some good back up from the Women’s matches this proved to be another enjoyable card from the WWE.
The DVD also includes the Kickoff match which pitted Smackdown Tag Team Champions Cesaro and Shinsuke Nakamura against the Lucha House Party in an entertaining encounter.
7 out of 10
Photographs courtesy of Fetch and WWE
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