WWE Clash of Champions took place Sunday night at the Spectrum Center in Charlotte, North Carolina. The show was main-evented by Seth Rollins and Braun Strowman competing for the Universal Championship while also pulling double-duty defending their RAW Tag Team Championships against Robert Roode and Dolph Ziggler. Elsewhere, we had two instances of Horsewoman vs. Horsewoman action with Becky Lynch and Sasha Banks as well as Bayley and Charlotte competing for the RAW and SmackDown Women’s Championships, respectively.
Seth Rollins and Braun Strowman (C) vs. Dolph Ziggler and Robert Roode
I’ve really been enjoying the dynamic between Rollins and Strowman over the last few weeks with the “Good Friends, Better Enemies” tag team gimmick with Braun having his sights set square on Seth’s Universal Championship. The match began with Braun and Roode with Strowman looking like the baddest man on the planet throwing around Ziggler and Roode like they weighed 80 pounds. Once Rollins tagged in, Roode and Ziggler gained the momentum back and did their best to drain the Universal Champion’s energy and strength. I also liked the chaotic ending with Strowman inadvertently pushing Roode into Rollins to set up the ultimate pin fall and title change. This was a fine match and it served as a “Part One” of the night-long story between Strowman and Rollins leading up to their Universal Championship match. Rollins taking the fall and looking exhausted at the final bell was a good piece to include to sew some seeds of doubt later on in the night.
Winner: Dolph Ziggler and Robert Roode Time: 9:40 Rating: 2.5 Stars
Bayley (C) vs. Charlotte Flair
Great job by Charlotte to immediately come flying out of the gate to strike first with a massive big boot for a shock two-count. For all of this match’s three-plus minutes, Charlotte dominated the offense here between throwing Bayley into the ringside barricade multiple times as well as targeting Bayley’s left knee joint. This decision to go with a “blink and you’ll miss it” finish was an interesting one. These two had a very entertaining match on SmackDown back in the spring, so I was a little disappointed we didn’t see a replication of that here to show off their in-ring skills. But I will admit the quick pin and running out of the arena on top of hitting Charlotte’s head on the exposed turnbuckle is another layer of heel tactics employed by the usually pure-hearted hugger. Not bad, but short.
Winner: Bayley Time: 3:45 Rating: 2 Stars
The New Day (C) vs. The Revival
I really enjoyed this match. While they don’t always use sportsmanlike maneuvers (like slamming Big E’s head into the ring steps), the Revival continue to put on great wrestling matches and their cache increases with every new championship reign. I really enjoyed the spot with Dawson ripping off Xavier Woods’ kneepad and wrenched on his injured leg to try and draw more ire as dastardly heels. Let’s not forget about the New Day, who had as much to with this match being a captivating watch to see who would walk out with the championships. Woods sold the hell out of a chop-block to the back of his leg that made it sound just as bad as it looked. And for as big of a guy as he is, Big E is able to sell headlocks and big slams from the Revival fantastically to make them look near-lethal. While the crowd wasn’t that into the Revival as heels, I really enjoyed this match and would not mind another rematch in the near future.
Winner: The Revival Time: 10:15 Rating: 3.5 Stars
Alexa Bliss and Nikki Cross (C) vs. Fire and Desire
I really don’t understand this storyline of Mandy Rose calling Nikki Cross “ugly.” I understand the aspect of heels making comments that don’t make sense to the crowd and to go low to draw some anger from the people who want to defend someone they like in Cross. But I would think the majority of people think Cross is one of the more beautiful women on the roster. A great heel to me is someone who can make comments or claims and the crowd in return thinks to themselves “Okay, I see where they’re coming from.” But I digress…this match was not interesting to me at all. Little crowd reaction, missed punches, very choreographed sequences. This just wasn’t entertaining to me. The best part of this match was the run-in by R-Truth, Carmella and the 24/7 Championship patrol and Nikki Cross’ hip gyrations.
Winner: Alexa Bliss and Nikki Cross Time: 9:05 Rating: 1.5 Stars
Shinsuke Nakamura (C) vs. The Miz
Playing the role of Lio Rush in this match was Sami Zayn, playing up the annoying heel manager gimmick to his best effort. Although this was pretty straightforward paint-by-numbers, this a solid match between two guys who have proven in the past they can put on a well-executed sequence of events. Miz is a better heel, in my opinion, but he can still play up the “aggravated babyface” who had the match won clean a few times during the bout if not for the interference and heel tactics of Zayn and Nakamura. The ending with Miz getting distracted by Sami on the outside of the ring is a tried-and-true way to build up some more heel heat for both manager and champion. (Sami for getting involved in a match when he shouldn’t and Shinsuke for literally throwing his knee with all of his might into the back of Miz’s head). I’m also glad Sami and Shinsuke are each getting a renewed spotlight in the SmackDown mid-card title picture going forward. Shout-out to Charlotte (the city, not the wrester) for getting behind the Miz and booing Sami and Shinsuke to give this match a good bit of added interest.
Winner: Shinsuke Nakamura Time: 9:35 Rating: 2.5 Stars
Becky Lynch (C) vs. Sasha Banks
These two had a NXT Women’s Championship match in 2015 that was arguably one of the best matches in NXT history. Even though this was the first time they squared off in years, I expected something in the ballpark of that match in terms of sheer entertainment because of their proven chemistry. This was very back-and-forth with no woman gaining total control of the match. Sasha hit several Meteora’s to knock Becky off her feet and Becky focused a majority of her offense on locking Sasha into the Dis-Arm-Her. While the crowd and myself really enjoyed the majority of this match, I wasn’t a big fan of the weak-looking chair shot Becky used to knock out the referee. I liked the decision to knock out the referee to allow the two Horsewomen to brawl around the arena, but it almost looked like Becky barely grazed the ref’s left side. Although we’ve always seen referees being knocked down with the smallest gust of wind, this looked very weak. That being said, this was the match of the night for most people and I for one cannot wait for part two, potentially inside Hell in a Cell next month.
Winner (by DQ): Sasha Banks Time: 20:00 Rating: 3.5 Stars
Kofi Kingston (C) vs. Randy Orton
For the life of me, I don’t know why this match didn’t have a stipulation attached to it. Orton and Kingston have done a solid job of building up this feud from an off-color comment roughly 10 years ago to roping in Kingston looking like a failure in front of his family. That kind of needling and commentary in promos week-after-week should lead you to believe that these two would want to inflict more punishment on each other out of hatred as well as to do anything to win the WWE Championship. If I could change one thing about the pacing and move-set of this match, I would speed it up and make it a lot more visceral.
This match came close to mirroring their match from SummerSlam where it started out a bit slow with both guys grappling and feeling each other out for weaknesses before finally bringing out the big moves and spots more than halfway through the match. After smacking Orton around for a few seconds, the Viper launched Kofi off the apron into the ringside barricade in the first big attention-grabbing move of the match. Once Orton rolled the champion back into the ring, the energy of the match significantly picked up with more flying dropkicks and backbreakers. Slowly but surely, the Charlotte crowd grew more and more interested in this match leading up to the final and sudden “Trouble in Paradise,” giving Kofi the clean-as-a-sheet victory. If Orton’s placement in the Hell in a Cell promotional video means anything, we may be in line for one more match between these two. I’ll admit I did get a big kick out of Orton teasing the Punt to the head in the match’s closing moments, so I wouldn’t be upset with one last match-up with these two getting a little more vicious inside the cell.
Winner: Kofi Kingston Time: 20:50 Rating: 3 Stars
Roman Reigns vs. Erick Rowan
Considering the previous match had a few chair shots and some brawling up and down the Spectrum Center concourse, Reigns and Rowan had their work cut out for them to make this an interesting no-disqualification grudge match. Both of these guys are two of the bigger superstars on the SmackDown rosters, so the only way to make this confrontation look credible was to have both guys go full brawler and just try to knock each other senseless for 15+ minutes. Rowan made use of the announce table, the top of an exposed ringside LED board and even a trash can to try to knock down Reigns for three seconds. He even did something with a shocking display of in-ring acumen by powerbombing Reigns through the main announce table and then immediately dragging him back into the ring for a near-pin (resulting in only a long two-count). Usually, a wrestler will milk the moment a bit and allow for replay angles to showcase the destruction.
Throughout this whole match, I was anticipating the arrival of Daniel Bryan to either side with Roman or swerve the crowd and re-join Rowan in beating down the Big Dog. However, I was very excited to see the return of Luke Harper (who I honestly thought was Elias for a second). The renewed tandem of the Bludgeon Brothers/Wyatt Family cohorts is a great move to give an underappreciated member of the roster some more television time while also offering a new set of obstacles for a beloved babyface like Reigns to potentially overcome next month. And where does Bryan fit into all of this? Needless to say, I enjoyed this match and I’m excited to see where this storyline goes next.
Winner: Erick Rowan Time: 17:25 Rating: 3 Stars
Seth Rollins (C) vs. Braun Strowman
Braun came right out of the box like a house of fire throwing down Seth with a shoulder block. But after a second of rest, Seth chop-blocked and super-kicked the Monster Among Men down to the mat to even the score. The image of this match that will forever be engrained in people’s minds is the shot of the 350+ pound Strowman belly-flopping onto Rollins from the top-rope. I think if that was any other wrestler, that would have been the end of the match because you might have been scared for all of that weight coming down on them. (Truth be told, I was afraid that Braun was about to fall off the top rope when he was ready to jump). I will say that I thought Seth should have sold a move like that a bit more as he kind of shook it off like a normal slam or lariat.
If I’m being honest, I think the wrong man won in this match. By my count, Braun has entered five Universal Championship matches in the last two-and-a-half years and has come up short every time. For this 6’8”, 350+ pound behemoth who has been one of the most popular members of the RAW roster in that time, he has always come up short when the title is on the line. He is the early 1990’s Buffalo Bills: Fun to watch, but always comes up short, leading you to wonder if he will ever carry the championship and become the next big superstar for WWE. You can always give him the championship later on, but would it have the same effect? Would it just appear like when Bray Wyatt won the belt back in 2017, when a majority of his starpower had been dwindled due to multiple lost feuds and repetitive promos? Granted, I’m saying all of this before next month’s presumed pay-per-view main event between Rollins and the Fiend, so maybe this wasn’t Strowman’s time and a more-evened matchup is between the smaller Rollins rather than the larger Strowman. My point is that if you’re a fan of Strowman, and if he can’t beat a guy who’s 150 pounds lighter than him, who can he beat for the championship? But I digress…I was disappointed with the finish, this was still a good car wreck of a main event.
Winner: Seth Rollins Time: 11:00 Rating: 3 Stars
Overall Thoughts: Tonight was the epitome of an up-and-down, crest-and-wave kind of show. I enjoyed a good few parts (the return of the Fiend, Becky vs. Sasha, the Revival vs. the New Day) and there were parts I could have done without (Alexa and Nikki vs. Fire and Desire, Braun taking a clean loss in a title match yet again). Match of the night honors for me go out to Becky Lynch and Sasha Banks with the Revival and the New Day coming in strong second. My least favorite match was the Women’s Tag Team Championships match.
Final Clash of Champions Rating: 2.5 Stars