Too Much of a Good Thing
The Monday Night Raw solo PPV, Clash of Champions has passed, and with it, any gleaming hope that two PPV events per month won’t completely burn out the already weary public. It was only a few short weeks ago that Backlash, Smackdown Live’s solo PPV gave us something to look forward to. Matches with high stakes and a much appreciated runtime (Backlash ended early, and gave us the tail end of our Sunday back). I haven’t looked at the official runtime for the event, but it felt like a typical episode of RAW, which isn’t what you want from your first solo outing. The wrasslin’ was great, the matches were given time to breathe, but it in the end, the entire event just felt bloated.
Coming into Clash of Champions, the focus of the Universal Title was less on the champion, and who was it that put the wheels in motion to get the belt away from Seth Rollins. The story, in and of itself, doesn’t offend me, and I rather like the idea of keeping the mastermind, Triple H, off screen for awhile. But that route puts this feud in a weird spot wherein the payoff has to be at a big show, leaving this show with no real resolution, even after all questions are seemingly answered.
Yes, the match between both men in the ring was stellar, as usual. Owens and Rollins have great in-ring chemistry. I don’t think the face turn for Rollins has completely taken yet, but Owens is still one of the best in-ring heels WWE has at their disposal. Hitting every maneuver with a complete lack of contempt for Rollins. Watching Rollins writhe and crawl around the ring while Owens decided exactly which move would hurt the most. Ultimately winning the match, possibly, most likely, quite obviously, thanks to Stephanie McMahon. So the feud, with the Universal Championship acting as a macguffin, will more than likely switch over to Triple H/Rollins. Which was a microcosm of the entire PPV. There payoff comes off as smaller, because there really isn’t one just yet.
Best of 8?
The Cesaro/Sheamus best of seven series almost ended last night. After what was arguably their best match in the series. A series in which none of the matches altered or had rising stakes or stipulations (why not throw a No DQ, or Cage Match in there), the deciding bout ended in a No Contest, after neither man was able to continue with the match.
It’s a compelling but slightly disappointing way to end this story. It was strange enough that Cesaro’s first win came in a non-televised event, after Sheamus went up 3-0. Once the series was 3-1, wrasslin’ history dictated that Cesaro had to win. I think they knew that, so a screwy ending was the only way to garner more crowd interest. Again, why not add stipulations to the matches as they went on. On top of the overall outcome being predictable, the one on one exchanges started to mesh together into one overly European blob. Not that any of the matches were bad, just very samey, with varying levels of intensity. Add to that, Sheamus working Cesaro’s injured back for most of the feud and what we had was a prolonged Dragon Ball Z fight. Then, instead of them destroying Planet Namec, we got next time on….”. Maybe they’ll pull something off for Monday Night Raw, but then it comes back to why even time it so the series ended during the PPV to begin with. Why draw attention to the event in such a way only to flip off the people who paid their $9.99 by having the real conclusion on cable?
A New Challenger
TJ Perkins came out to 8-bit, midi rock for his entrance. I think that’s all that needs to be said.
Okay, i’m being told that more does actually need to be said. The match was solid. The crowd was pretty dead most of the night, so Perkins and Kendrick had their work cut out for them. Unlike the four way that determined the #1 contender, this match was a little more methodical. Of course, the Cruiserweight action kicked up as needed, but it was largely a traditional war of attrition, right up until it wasn’t. I hope these guys get to do some mic work soon, or at least build feuds, because throwing the new champ out there cold, and to a guy audiences were supposed to know won’t cut it. Older fans are aware of Brian Kendrick, but casual fans only see the guy that’s definitely going to pull his gun on any random episode of Sons of Anarchy.
2nd Nature and a 3rd Wheel
Charlotte retained the Women’s title in the triple threat between herself, Bayley and Sasha Banks. This match wasn’t near any of their former NXT work, but it was solid. Each woman got their spot to shine, and the match was mostly a series of one-on-one sections, like most triple threats can turn into. The only problem here is that they’re clearly going to splinter this off into a Bayley/Sasha feud. Bayley has been thrust into a top spot, paying off the time she’d spent in NXT after the other Horsewomen got the call up, but she still has to prove herself on this stage. If that means re-starting her “all my friends are turning on me” angle, i’m okay with it, just don’t make her out to be naive. I don’t know what this means for Charlotte in the meantime. I don’t think Dana Brooke splitting off makes sense, unless Paige or Emma are poised to make a return. Charlotte is doing a great job playing Queen of the Kingdom, but she needs another contender until someone makes headway between Bayley and Banks.
Roman Reigns finally won the US Championship from Rusev in a fairly straightforward match. Rusev, further proving that he’s one of the best workers in the company got off some brutal offense that led to a convincing Reigns comeback. The biggest problem being, Reigns has seemingly already reached the no-sell era of his career. Which i’d be more okay with if he wasn’t dressed like a GI Joe cosplayer. Stank-Eyes has the advantage in any match that doesn’t have weapons, all while having the demeanor of that one guy who brings a guitar to every party. Either be the menace or the beach bum. You can’t be both. Not yet. +
Clash of Champions was a decent RAW episode that aired on a Sunday night. Ultimately nothing mattered and it felt longer than it actually was, which is something you never want from your entertainment. We were worried that Smackdown Live wouldn’t be able to pull off a stand alone PPV, when it was RAW that would have trouble defending its existence. Going forward, they’ll have to try harder to make these things matter. Especially going up against #PeakTV and NFL on Sundays.