This Sunday night on WWE Network, Raw presents their first pay-per-view since WWE’s brand split started two months ago. It’s a show called Clash of Champions headlined by Kevin Owens defending the Universal Championship against Seth Rollins and Rusev defending the United States Championship against Roman Reigns.
Before we begin, a note on the name of the show. After using the “Night of Champions” name going back to 2007, WWE decided to change it to “Clash of Champions” this year. What’s interesting about that is “Clash of the Champions” was the name of a television special that the NWA/WCW company ran in the 1980s and into the early 1990s. Current Raw General Manager Mick Foley actually said “Clash of the Champions” on Raw a few weeks ago because he wrestled on some Clash shows back in the day. For some reason, WWE went with Clash of Champions this year and dropped “the” out of the name that NWA/WCW used. There’s no really reason why they did it, other than they like to change things up once in a while.
WWE Universal Championship: Kevin Owens vs. Seth Rollins
The Universal Title match will likely headline the show. It’s the first time the Universal Title will be defended on a pay-per-view. WWE has tried to tell fans it is the most coveted prize on the Raw brand, yet they just had the champion (Owens) lose clean on Raw to Reigns in a cage match. How are we supposed to get excited about a guy’s first major title defense when we just saw him lose on Raw? It’s stupid on WWE’s part. The booking on Raw has been really poor of late.
In case you forgot, Owens won the Universal Championship in a Fatal 4-Way Elimination match on Raw on Aug. 29. It ended when Triple H hit a Pedigree on Reigns and also a surprising Pedigree on Rollins. Owens covered for the win in a way that made it look like he had no idea Triple H would be there. Since that time, everybody on Raw has been wondering why Triple H did what he did, because he hasn’t appeared on Raw since then. Triple H was on screen at the Cruiserweight Classic finale last week, but this is WWE, where one show’s storylines apparently don’t matter on other shows.
There are a lot of ways that Owens vs. Rollins could end, but I think what matters the most to WWE is keeping that title on Owens. There’s really no reason to have Owens lose the title to the new babyface Rollins so soon after winning it. However, WWE won’t want to hurt Rollins with a loss because they will likely have more matches after this.
The question becomes, how can they keep the title on Owens without hurting Rollins?
The answer is, you probably guessed it… a returning Triple H. Again.
I think Owens and Rollins will have a very competitive match for 15-20 minutes that should be very good and at some point, Triple H will show up. They didn’t bring him back on Aug. 29 so that he could go away for months without being a part of this story. I think his involvement is going to be necessary to set up the finish.
Rollins is in the role as top face on the Raw brand right now. He needs to look like a sympathetic figure who will have a tough time winning the Universal Championship he covets so much. In order to do that, having Triple H screw him out of the title for the second time fits the story perfectly.
They may go with a disqualification ending after Triple H attacks Rollins and then Roman Reigns saves Rollins, just like Rollins saved Reigns on Raw. It could lead to a tag team match at next month’s Hell in a Cell show because it’s a way to do a big match without putting the title on the line.
My prediction for this match is Owens winning after Triple H shows up, doesn’t lay a hand on Rollins, but does enough to distract him to allow Owens to hit a Popup Powerbomb for the win. After the match, Owens and Triple H will attack Rollins together, which will lead to Reigns making the save for Rollins as the show goes off the air.
I think that the tag match idea for Hell in a Cell is possible, but they could do Rollins vs. Triple H there as well. That’s a big feud which would bring a lot of attention to the HIAC match. They could also do Owens vs. Reigns or add a third person to the mix. There are a lot of options if Triple H returns to television the way I think he will.
All I really know is that if WWE takes the Universal Title off Owens less than a month after he won it, then they would be making a huge mistake. They can’t be that dumb, right?
Prediction: Kevin Owens retains the WWE Universal Title… somehow
Here’s a look at the rest of the lineup, which features five title matches.
United States Championship: Rusev vs. Roman Reigns
I’m really not that interested in this match. It’s nothing against either guy. It’s just that WWE did that match on Raw before SummerSlam, which Reigns won clean. Then they did the SummerSlam angle which wasn’t a match and after that, went away from the feud for a few weeks. Rusev came back from his honeymoon, attacked Reigns to get the heat back and we’re supposed to care about this again? I don’t.
Reigns doesn’t need the US Title. He’ll probably feud with Owens soon. I’d rather see a guy like Cesaro or Zayn beat Rusev for the title because it would mean more if one of them won the gold. I think it’s better for Rusev to hold onto the title, so I’m predicting a win for him, although it probably won’t be clean.
Prediction: Rusev retains the US Title
Raw Women’s Championship: Charlotte vs. Sasha Banks vs. Bayley
This story has been all over the place. It looked like Banks was going to have a pretty good run with the Women’s Title when she won it in late July. But then she dropped it to Charlotte at SummerSlam because WWE thought Banks would miss time with a back injury. She came back sooner than expected. While that happened, Bayley got in the mix and even got a pinfall on Charlotte in a non-title match. Then they did a triple threat match two weeks ago with Bayley, Banks and Dana Brooke which ended in a draw, yet Banks and Bayley were both given title shots. Is this really the best way to build a match? Nope. It’s pretty bad.
The good news is the match should be really good because they are awesome performers who are familiar with each other and will likely get a lot of time. I think Banks is going to win the title back because WWE likely wants her to hold it for a few months. She can feud with Nia Jax in the near future, while they do the Charlotte split with Brooke because WWE seems interested in pushing Brooke. I’m not sure where that leaves Bayley, though.
Prediction: Sasha Banks is the New Women’s Champion
Sami Zayn vs. Chris Jericho
I’m a biased Canadian who is a huge fan of my fellow countrymen, so I’m looking forward to this a lot. The logical finish is Zayn winning clean, since Jericho’s a veteran in his mid-40s while Zayn is a rising star in his early 30s that probably shouldn’t lose to Jericho at this point in his career. It will be a competitive match with a lot of near-falls for both guys, but in the end Zayn should win somewhere between 10-15 minutes.
Prediction: Sami Zayn wins
Raw Tag Team Championship: The New Day vs. Luke Gallows & Karl Anderson
This feud has been hurt by WWE’s creative team. A rivalry that should have been hot by this point has suddenly gone cold. That “Old Day” bad comedy skit from a few weeks ago did a lot of damage and they weren’t able to recover from it. I feel bad for the performers because this feud could have been so good.
Their SummerSlam match ended in a disqualification win for Gallows & Anderson. Then they had non-title match on Raw a couple weeks ago where Gallows & Anderson won clean. Why give away the win on TV? Because the champs are going to retain on PPV. I don’t like giving away title matches in a non-title setting, but that’s the way WWE tends to do these things. Since WWE keeps mentioning New Day going for the all-time tag team title reign held by Demolition (New Day is at 398 days on Sunday, Demolition’s record is 478 days), I think they’ll keep the titles a few more months to beat the record. I’m not sure if that’s the best move. I just think that’s what they are going to do.
Prediction: The New Day retains Tag Team Titles
Cesaro vs. Sheamus (Match #7 in Best of 7 Series tied 3-3)
This could have been so much better. It’s easy to say that about a lot of things on Raw, right?
I didn’t like the booking with Sheamus going up 3-0 because it made the next three matches anticlimactic, with Cesaro winning three straight. WWE still hasn’t specified what the winner gets. They said “a future title shot” a few times without saying which title it will be. The wrestlers should be doing promos talking about how much they want to win because they want to hold that title. Instead, they barely get television time. I assume it will be a US Title shot and that Cesaro may be the guy that beats Rusev for it. I’m not sure if they’ll get enough time to have a classic match, but I think Cesaro will end up as the victor.
Prediction: Cesaro wins the series 4-3
WWE Cruiserweight Championship: T.J. Perkins vs. Brian Kendrick
I am repeating myself again saying this could have been done so much better. While I enjoyed seeing Brian Kendrick get the win on Raw to earn the title shot, I think WWE made a mistake leaving Perkins off Raw. After Kendrick won, they should have had Perkins show up with the title, hold it up in Kendrick’s face and tease the match coming on Sunday. Instead, there’s no heat or visual tease for this match.
As for the result, Perkins just won the title last week. There’s no reason for him to drop it so soon. I just worry that the crowd may not be into the match that much since there’s no storyline going into it. It’s nice to put wrestlers in the ring and let them do their thing, but the Cruiserweight Classic crowd aren’t the ones at this show. It’s a bigger crowd that likes characters just as much as in-ring work. Too bad WWE didn’t invest more time, in terms of building the characters of Perkins and Kendrick. I think Perkins will win by knee-bar submission after about 10 minutes.
Prediction: TJ Perkins retains Cruiserweight Title
Alicia Fox vs. Nia Jax (Kickoff Match)
This is the easiest match to predict since Nia Jax is involved. Fox will put up more of a fight than most of Jax’s opponents on Raw, but Jax should get the easy, predictable win in under five minutes.
Prediction: Nia Jax wins
In addition to those matches, I think WWE might add Enzo & Cass vs. The Shining Stars as well, with Enzo & Cass getting the win. But the bout hasn’t been announced yet.
I think the match quality should be pretty good for most of the matches, but some of them feel repetitive and lacking in terms of storylines. There will probably be some points in the show when the crowd is quiet because they just won’t care about what’s going on. The Raw brand has suffered from that problem for two months.
The main event should be the match of the night, as well as the most talked about match when the show is over. I just hope that whatever angle they do, whether Triple H is involved or not, that it’s something that gets people talking positive instead of complaining about how stupid it was.
WWE Clash of Champions is available on WWE Network this Sunday, Sept. 25 with the Kickoff Show starting at 7 p.m. ET/4 p.m. PT and the pay-per-view starting at 8 p.m. ET/5 p.m. ET. I’ll be back on Monday with thoughts on everything that happens at Clash of Champions.