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Clash of Champions was WWE's final PPV before the wrestling world changes. Over the next several weeks, NXT will debut on USA, SmackDown will debut on FOX and AEW will begin its weekly television on TNT. Across the company, the stakes are going to be raised. AEW will provide a strong weekly alternative to WWE's television monopoly, and SmackDown on FOX will demand more from WWE than any other TV partner they had before.
With all of that taking place, it was hard to watch Clash of Champions and not think that WWE is going to have to do better than what they presented tonight. Clash of Champions was show filled with mediocre matches, title matches that lacked heat and confusing finishes. The show wasn't offensively bad; instead it was just really boring, which as history has taught us, can actually be worse.
The next month needs to be a time where WWE feels like it is peaking; instead it feels flat. The roster lacks talent that is really over with the audience, or that fans care about enough to become invested in whether or not they win wrestling matches. Even the biggest names on the roster, Roman Reigns, Randy Orton, Seth Rollins, all really struggled to generate heat for their matches. The lack of true star power is WWE's biggest institutional weakness, and Clash of Champions hammered that point home.
Seth Rollins vs Braun Strowman: **3/4
A very spot heavy match that has become Heyman's trademark since he has assumed more influence backstage. Rollins put in a hell of an effort, taking almost all of the bumps and working around Strowman's weaknesses. At times it felt choreographed and the crowd was pretty dead for most of the match, although they started coming to life when Rollins began to spam finishers at the end.
Strowman at one time maybe should have gotten the title and a push to the moon, but that ship has sailed. He could still win the title but at this point it is hard to think that WWE didn't miss the boat with this guy. WWE is clearly moving Seth on to feud with Wyatt, and a lot of pressure is on Wyatt to perform and get that character over as a legitimate main event act, because WWE needs a lot of help in that department.
Becky Lynch vs Sasha Banks: ***
This was the match I was most interested in seeing, and it looked to be building to a good, heated final few moments. Then Becky slowly hit the referee with a chair, they brawled into the stands and Michael Cole casually mentioned that the match had ended in a DQ while the two women sprayed condiments on each other.
They have a lot more storytelling to do in this feud, so a non-finish makes a lot of sense in that regard, although they could have executed it better. Sasha should take the title off of Becky; there is no inherent value having Lynch be an unbeatable champion, and having her chase after the title would make her more interesting over the next several months; they could even build it up to have a huge match at WrestleMania.
Kofi Kingston vs Randy Orton: *1/2
This match had a lot of issues. The crowd was completely dead for almost all of it, which was impressive considering the crowd had been very good up until this point. I think the problem is two-fold, and has to do with both wrestlers.
Orton is discussed as being a great worker, but the fact is that his slow, methodical style didn't get over at all with this audience and instead of recognizing that and picking up the pace, the match remained slow and lethargic the entire time. They ended the SummerSlam match by having this big brawl after Orton went after Kofi's family, but then they had a regular, standard match at the next PPV.
Kofi works hard and he has been a nice story, but there is a limit to the goodwill that can get you when you are pushing a guy who has been a mid-carder for more than a decade in WWE. Not all fans are going to accept that a guy who was never protected until this year is suddenly a major star; and that has led to a smaller crowd reaction, especially in crowds that are not all hardcore fans, like the WrestleMania weekend crowds tend to be. I like Kofi, everyone does, but tonight wasn't a great vote of confidence for his title reign.
Erick Rowan vs Roman Reings: **
This was another boring match that the crowd wasn't into. They did another brawl in the crowd and they did the table spots and used the steel steps and all the other gimmicks you see during a No DQ match. Harper coming back was a suprise, but he really needs to unfreeze his contract if he ever wants to leave the company, so it was only a matter of time before he came back. I think it is kind of counterproductive to have Rowan start out with this idea that he is a new man and this is a new character, and then immediately pair him up with Harper again, which turns Rowan into the same guy he was before.
Bayley vs Charlotte: *
So they had to have been trying to save time on this PPV, and this was the match they selected to be really short. Unfortunately, due to Bayley's recent heel turn, this match was one of the most interesting on the card, so it was very disappointing to see it go short. I also don't think the finish, with Bayley dumping Charlotte into the exposed turnbuckle, rolling her up, and then sprinting away, helped Bayley at all. Bayley didn't become a sneaky, cowardly heel, she became a vindictive, nasty competitor who would do whatever it took to win. There is a difference there and I don't think this finish helped her sell that new character.
Shinsuke Nakamura vs The Miz: **½
Nakamura was once one of the best wrestlers in the world, and used to have some of the best, most exhilarating matches. He apparently is very happy working in WWE, and you never really know what motivates someone. Wearing a full-body suit and winning a mid-card match against The Miz due to outside interference may just in fact be Nakamura's career goal.
The crowd was really into this match, despite it not being anything special. The crowd was really good for most of the night, which was impressive given how uninspiring a lot of this show ended up being.
The Revival vs The New Day: **½
Pretty basic tag team match that saw The Revival get their heat early and then The New Day made the standard comeback. I was distracted during portions of this match because Graves was just yelling at Saxton for some reason; I really won't miss him being on both broadcasts. The finish was odd with The Revival going for the Figure Four, which was set up like they were being too cocky and should have just pinned Woods, but Woods just tapped out. It was a bit of misdirection, not sure how I feel about it.
I didn't understand this match; Rollins and Strowman lost the titles after Strowman accidentally ran over Rollins, but after the match they just walked to the back. They couldn't have gotten in a fight in the ring after the miscommunication? They couldn't have shoved each other to add some tension to their babyface vs babyface match? The finish of the match set up a perfect time for Strowman and Rollins to add some heat to their match later that night and they just did nothing.
Bliss and Cross became babyfaces recently, but it feels kind of off since Bliss is such a natural heel. The work wasn't very good, although once Cross got the hot tag it improved greatly. They had the random 24/7 title run-in, which was something different. Overall just a generic, boring title match.