Owens and Jericho celebrating during one of the not-so-highlights of Clash of Champions
My Second Thoughts on Clash of Champions...
To say I was underwhelmed by RAW's inaugural solo PPV last night might be a stretch, but I wasn't blown away by it either.
There were some matches (Cesaro-Sheamus, Perkins-Kendrick) I found to be quite riveting and exciting, others just kind of there (Reigns-Rusev, Jericho-Zayn), and the rest, which would've seemed better suited for short and/or screwy TV matches. Overall, it was a middle-of-the-road installment for WWE RAW, much like Smackdown and Backlash.
Owens vs. Rollins
Starting with the main event and working down, Owens and Rollins put on a very serviceable main event. Upon second glance, though, Triple H's presence in this match was more prevalent than I initially thought. Along with Jericho's constant interference, the incessant call backs and references to The Game took a lot away from what should've been at least a 3 1/2-star match.
Also, it just didn't feel like the crowd was as emotionally invested as they should've been; that's because The Authority has directly or indirectly had involvement with the heavyweight champion for the last 3 years (Rollins, HHH, Reigns, Owens). Even if the storyline plays out that Stephanie truly had no idea of her husband's involvement (highly doubtful given her previous characterization), it'll most likely lead her to essentially say "If they think I'm evil, then let me be evil" anyway, making all the drama between her, Foley and Rollins virtually pointless in the long run.
Also, the constant focus on said drama will end up undermining Owens to the point where he's more a bit character for Stephanie/Triple H than he is the headliner, which he should be in this circumstance.
Rusev vs. Roman Reigns
The inherent problem with this feud has been the backwards booking; you have Rusev celebrating his marriage to Lana, and Reigns coming out cracking bad honeymoon jokes and causing Lana to end up a shambling mess of wedding cake (Giggity *smack*), all presumably because Rusev wouldn't accept his US Title challenge, with the simple reasoning that Reigns hasn't earned the opportunity to do so. Reigns ruins the romantic moment, so Rusev takes up the challenge for the sake of vengeance and defending the honor of his newlywed wife.
This all wouldn't be a half-bad basis for a professional feud turned personal...except WWE's expecting us to cheer its golden boy for doing exactly what a heel (not a Stone Cold "HELL YEAH, that's funny!" heel, but more a douchebag on level with Kanye West) would do to backdoor their way into a title shot, which is what boggles my mind and shows that WWE still hasn't learned how to redirect Roman's character in a more suitable direction based on his actions (i.e. TURN HIM HEEL ALREADY!!!).
Aside from all that, the match itself simply wasn't good. It lacked a lot of the impact from their previous TV matches, and had little, if any, of the fire from their "brawl" at SummerSlam. Even the Lana interference, which WWE actually does a good job of using sparingly, was too drawn out here.
So while their eventual rematch at (and hopefully inside of) Hell in A Cell will ramp up the physicality a notch, I can't help but feel a double turn, or at least a shift in Roman's character, would be more beneficial for this feud.
Jericho vs. Zayn
This was one of the aforementioned middle-of-the-road matches that, upon a second viewing, seemed a little disjointed between Jericho and Zayn, which took me by surprise as they had good, fluid and competitive matches in the past on RAW and Smackdown before the draft.
As I mentioned in the COC review last night, I don't quite get Jericho taking the duke here (rather cleanly, in fact), as Sami really need the win more and Jericho's basically playing second fiddle to the Universal Champion and is protected as such even with a loss. While I'm sure there's some long-term consideration for Zayn and his eventual pursuit of Owens and the Universal title, right now he's getting the 2015 Neville treatment and that's not a good sign.
Cesaro vs. Sheamus
I knew going into this that Cesaro and Sheamus would both feel the pressure to break out something far more substantial for their final match in the series. They accomplished that for the most part, what with the great call backs to previous moments in the series, like Cesaro's back injury and the nefarious tactics used by either man to gain a leg-up on the other.
Then we get this moment, which may be a little much for those who are squeamish about head injuries...
A scary moment for Cesaro, as even Lita, who had a near spine-snapping moment herself in a '04 RAW main event with Trish Stratus, lampshaded how risky it was, and it only emboldens the point that those like Cesaro, Big E, and Sasha need to either remedy the move so it puts far less strain and risk on their heads and backs, or stop diving altogether.
That being said, it thankfully didn't lead to the no contest ending as I initially thought, as that was apparently the intended finish, which drew a rather unflattering response from the WWE Universe, the majority of whom (79%), in an official WWE poll earlier today, stated that regardless of their physical condition, a poignant, finite conclusion should've been reached between Cesaro and Sheamus.
Mick Foley's adamant rebuttal to that opinion, i.e. "Kiss my arse 'cause you're not a real wrestling fan if you didn't like it", makes me that 1. Mick Foley is a bigger flip-flop artist than John Kerry, and 2. I think that rather than have a sudden death-type match, he may just split the difference, call it a show of "mutual sportsmanship" and award the two Europeans a tag title shot.
While many would consider this a flop and a cop-out kind of call, it wouldn't be the worst idea, as Cesaro and Sheamus have already wrestled eight times over the last two months, so changing their dynamic to an unstable, powerhouse European tag team would be more of a necessity to keep things fresh between the two.
Perkins vs. Kendrick
Aside from a few sloppy moments at the start, this was a fun way to re-debut the Cruiserweight Title on PPV, with Perkins' technical know-how and high-flying acumen versus Kendrick's opportunistic tactics and veteran savvy.
You're not going to have Perkins lose on his PPV debut, so the result was never in question. Kendrick being a sore loser with the headbutt wasn't a shocker if you saw the crafty underhandedness in which he ascended the tournament ladder at the CWC. The feud continues, and I've got no complaints there.
Charlotte vs. Sasha vs. Bayley
I don't doubt the chemistry these three women have stemming from their time in NXT. This match, however, just felt like it was missing a certain element of intensity, the animosity you could only find with long-standing rivals such as Charlotte, Sasha and Bayley.
From a logical standpoint, I also don't get why Dana wouldn't be sticking her nose in this match the entire time, as she only got involved near the end. Maybe if they explained that perhaps she didn't want to mess up for Charlotte again, I'd buy it, but WWE's writing staff has a tendency to miss plot holes like these.
Like I mentioned the other night, while it was anticlimactic that Charlotte won and Bayley ate the pinfall, this IS more or less how Bayley's long-suffering pursuit towards the NXT Women's Championship started, so WWE is merely going by NXT's notes.
The New Day vs. The Club
I can appreciate the frantic pace they set out with for this installment of the New Day-Club feud, as Gallows and Anderson were showing that were playing no more games by trying to take out Woods early and isolating Kofi from Big E. Classic tag psychology, which I like.
Xavier using Francesca II doesn't surprise me as an ending; typical New Day chicanery, showing they're still willing to be as underhanded as their opponents to keep their titles. However, it begs the question now, what's the plan for The Club? Two shots up in smoke, and while they'll likely get a rematch, I don't see it going it anywhere, so what was the point of separating them from AJ, other than being tag team fodder, or did I just answer my own question?
Nia Jax vs. Alicia Fox
Nothing to really write home about here; Alicia got crazy, Jax got mad and crushed said crazy, though it probably took a little longer than everyone would've appreciated. Given the likelihood of the (painfully) slow-burning Charlotte-Dana feud and the one-on-one rematch Sasha will have in the near future, Nia could very well be shaping up as Sasha's first opponent post-Charlotte.
Keep Your Minds Open!
Mine is closed, for now...
"Put your heart, mind, and soul into even your smallest acts. This is the secret of success."
- Swami Sivananda