WWE’s brand-exclusive pay-per-views, by nature, are typically a hit-or-miss affair. Raw- and SmackDown-specific shows have to make up for thinner rosters with compelling stories and strong matches. SmackDown’s recent return to single-brand PPVs, Backlash, accomplished just that.
Raw’s first exclusive PPV, Clash of Champions, however, doesn’t really face those same challenges. The card is strong from top to bottom. Were it not for the absences of names like John Cena, Randy Orton and AJ Styles, you’d have a hard time telling that it even was a single-brand PPV.
Roman Reigns and Rusev will reprise their hard-hitting rivalry after their SummerSlam showdown never got going. Kevin Owens and Seth Rollins will face off in an unlikely, yet appealing Universal Championship match. Meanwhile, the women’s and cruiserweight division get a chance to show their stuff.
With so strong a card, ranking each of Clash of Champion’s eight matches won’t be an easy feat. But that won’t stop we at Today’s Powerbomb from trying. That being said, let’s take a look at each of the eight matches on Sunday’s special and rank them based on expectations heading in and whether or not we expect them to meet, exceed or fall short of expectation.
8. Alicia Fox vs. Nia Jax
Like Braun Strowman, it’s nice to see that Nia Jax has graduated from local competitors to main roster foes. Still, it’s plain as day that this is going to be another in an exhaustingly long line of squash matches on WWE programming of late. Given how thin Raw’s women’s division in, Raw can’t afford to feed too many more of its female competitors to Jax.
7. Tag Team Championship: The New Day (c) vs. Luke Gallows & Karl Anderson
This is one of those feuds that never really seemed to get out of first gear. As with anything involving The New Day, there were some comedic moments. The problems arose when Gallows and Anderson tried to answer back with comedy of their own. We’ve been led to believe they’re badasses; they don’t need to out-funny New Day when they can just beat the tar out of them.
Regardless, the match itself should be a good one. It’s also one that could help to legitimize Gallows and Anderson. The New Day are approaching day 400 of their title reign and, so, beating them would be a huge feather in the cap of The Club members.
6. United States Championship: Rusev (c) vs. Roman Reigns
It feels strange slotting this match so low, but again that’s merely a testament to the strength of this card from top to bottom. The build to this feud has been, well, weird. It’s disappeared entirely at some points and at others it’s been too hokey. At its best, though, it’s been the sort of violent artistry we’ve come to expect from these two bruisers.
The match itself should be no different. Reigns and Rusev squared off on Raw about a month ago and delivered the sort of hard-hitting showdown that fans can expect to see again come Sunday. If he does capture Rusev’s U.S. title, this match will undoubtedly be one of the most talked about at pay-per-view’s end.
5. Best-of-Seven Series Final: Sheamus vs. Cesaro
When it was announced that Sheamus and Cesaro would take part in a best-of-seven series, not everyone was thrilled. The two, after all, had wrestled against one another many times in the past. How on Earth could they go at it seven more times and keep things fresh?
Six matches later and many of those same fans are probably wishing this series wasn’t coming to a head. With good storytelling and innovative offense, Cesaro and Sheamus have made every match feel important. Now it’s time to find out whether Cesaro can complete his epic comeback or if Sheamus will get the last laugh.
4. Chris Jericho vs. Sami Zayn
This program suffers from not having much build-up, but what there was, was admittedly pretty good. Sami Zayn’s appearance on Chris Jericho’s “Highlight Reel” fleshed out his character as much as anything since his rivalry with Kevin Owens ended. Unfortunately, the WWE didn’t do much to add to that by merely throwing the two in a 10-man tag team match this week.
Regardless, any time Zayn or Jericho steps between the ropes they have a chance to steal the show. Putting the two together only strengthens those chances. Yes, even on a card as stacked as this one. With so many high-profile matches to contend with, only the amount of time they’re given could stop Zayn and Jericho from having a stellar match.
3. Cruiserweight Championship: TJ Perkins (c) vs. Brian Kendrick
There was a moment of doubt when Mick Foley introduced the cruiserweights on Raw. The crowd was near silent as each of the four competitors made their entrances. They wanted to be wowed by these men before they doled out their applause. Fortunately, each of Gran Metalik, Rich Swann, Cedric Alexander and Brian Kendrick did their part.
If some segment of the audience hasn’t bought in yet, TJ Perkins’ first title defense against Brian Kendrick should do the trick. Perkins, who wrestled in TNA as Manik, has an astonishing moveset that fans won’t be able to resist. He and Kendrick will both have something to prove in their first WWE PPV (or, in Kendrick’s case, first in some time) and a letdown is unlikely.
2. Women’s Championship: Charlotte (c) vs. Sasha Banks vs. Bayley
Let the record show that your author isn’t all that in to women’s wrestling. That’s not to disrespect the athletes or discredit their abilities. In fact, I’m not sure what it is. Perhaps it’s due to years of being conditioned to view women’s wrestling as nothing more than a time-filler or bathroom break. And even still this is a match I can’t wait for.
Sasha Banks and Bayley put on a legitimate match of the year contender at last year’s TakeOver: Brooklyn. Banks and Charlotte also tore the house down a few weeks ago on Raw. Throwing all three in the ring is a surefire recipe for success. You can start feeling sympathetic now for whichever wrestlers are asked to follow this match.
1. Universal Championship: Kevin Owens (c) vs. Seth Rollins
There’s times when determining which match on a card is the most appealing. This, however, is not one of those times. Even on a card as stacked as Clash of Champions, what feels like the first big-time one-on-one WWE match between Kevin Owens and Seth Rollins takes the top spot in a landslide.
Even though both have played the heel since their respective debuts, they’re among the more beloved superstars on the Raw roster. This, of course, is due to largely to each man’s tremendous charisma and ability inside the squared circle. With the stakes and the stage as big as they are, it’s a safe bet that Rollins and Owens will deliver once again.