Following suit from the inaugural Smackdown Live PPV Backlash a couple weeks ago, RAW is set to deliver its first PPV since the brand split. WWE has borrowed the name of the old NWA/WCW staple, Clash of the Champions (minus "the" for some reason) and is replacing their own former staple Night of Champions (Not sure why they bothered changing the name at all, but whatever). On paper we have a pretty damn good lineup actually. Since RAW's roster is much deeper than Smackdown's this show looks to be superior to Backlash. But Backlash unexpectedly managed to over-deliver, so it'll be interesting to see which brand wins the September showdown. As with Backlash we'll be getting a pretty streamlined card that hopefully won't run more than three hours. Going forward if WWE wants to make the Big Four PPVs four hours and keep the split shows under three, I'd be fine with that. Anyway, let's look at the lineup.
***Justin leads Dan in predictions, 40/60 to 36/60.***
PreShow Match: Nia Jax vs. Alicia Fox
Nia's been squashing nobodies on RAW for weeks now, and this is her first main roster PPV appearance. I expect another two-or-so-minute mauling since Alicia Fox isn't exactly a top contender.
Justin's pick: Nia Jax
Dan's pick: I gotta go with Nia, because she's related to the Dorchester Shrimp.
|A delicious yet formidable opponent|
Best of Seven Final: Sheamus vs. Cesaro
Thank Christ this feud is ending. This is actually the ninth match between these two since the rivalry began, and aside from an undetermined title shot, nothing is on the line. Sheamus took the first three matches and Cesaro tied it up this past Monday to force a Game 7. If you ask me, Cesaro winning this match is the only outcome that makes any sense. Sheamus is beyond damaged at this point, while Cesaro remains wildly popular. If you're not gonna push Cesaro, for fuck's sake move him to Smackdown where there's room.
Justin's pick: Cesaro
Dan's pick: The Swiss Superman takes it down.
WWE Tag Team Championship: The New Day vs. The Club
This match again. Their outing at SummerSlam was marred by pointless Jon Stewart interference (I'm a Stewart fan but there has to be a better way to use his celebrity than as a totally unwanted ringside distraction), so hopefully this'll just be a straight-up match. A month ago I'd been pushing for a JeriKO Tag Title run but that's obviously off the table, so The Club probably wins the belts here finally.
Justin's pick: The Club
Dan's pick: The Club does nothing for me. Here's hoping the New Day retains.
Cruiserweight Championship: TJ Perkins vs. Brian Kendrick
The superbly executed Cruiserweight Classic is in the books, and most unexpectedly TJ Perkins is your first-ever (except for all those guys who had it from 2001-2007) Cruiserweight Champion. Tourney favorites Kota Ibushi and Zack Sabre Jr. both declined a WWE contract, so they were each defeated in the semifinals. Perkins strikes me as a step below the top favorites but he'll have a great chance here to prove himself against the experienced Kendrick. I hope the Cruisers get more than one RAW segment as a rule and that some real feuds are set up aside from the two guys vying for the belt. Otherwise this just becomes a hot potato division like it was in WCW. The match should be good though.
Justin's pick: No way Perkins loses already.
Dan's pick: Yeah, he just won it. He has to keep it.
Sami Zayn vs. Chris Jericho
Finally, fuckin' FINALLY Sami Zayn has something to do. After beating Kevin Owens (Ya know, the current Universal Champion?) at Battleground to end their storied rivalry for the time being, Zayn went on to challenge.....no one. He was literally given nothing to do for two months while Owens teamed with Chris Jericho before being utilized as the Plan B Universal Champion (No complaints there by the way). At some point Owens vs. Zayn needs to headline a RAW PPV, but for now Zayn gets to potentially steal the show with the always-game Jericho. This should be a highly entertaining match and a good way to get Zayn back on track.
Justin's pick: Zayn
Dan's pick: Zayn over The Scarf
US Championship: Rusev vs. Roman Reigns
Oh look, it's the match we were supposed to get at SummerSlam. I'm still not sure what they're doing with Reigns aside from punishing him for his Wellness violation. Is he a babyface still? No one likes him. In fact I bet Rusev gets more cheers than Reigns on Sunday. Technically I think Reigns and Seth Rollins are both babyfaces right now, but Reigns gets booed and Rollins still acts like a jerk. What the hell is going on? Anyway this match should be a solid brawl. Not sure how you have Reigns come up short here, but that's not necessarily a bad thing for the US Title. Reigns can pick up where John Cena left off last year, helping make this belt mean something again. Hell, maybe people will start to like him if he reinstates the weekly Open Challenge.
Justin's pick: Reigns
Dan's pick: Reigns
Women's Championship: Charlotte vs. Sasha Banks vs. Bayley
This is probably the match I'm most looking forward to actually. Charlotte and Sasha have already proven themselves on the main roster (though Sasha is honestly better suited as a heel than a babyface), and Bayley? Goddamn I love me some Bayley. You can't not like Bayley. She's the best babyface in WWE right now. Not to mention, anyone familiar with her NXT work knows she can work her ass off between the ropes. This is a tough match to pick. Sasha's intended Title run got derailed by a nagging back injury, but apparently she's fine now. Charlotte's been an amazing torch-bearer for the Women's division and inherited her dad's gift of carrying herself like an absolute fucking STAR. But Bayley is who pretty much everyone in the building is gonna be rooting for. Everyone wants to see Bayley win the strap. The problem is, part of Bayley's appeal is that we get to follow her on her journey to the top, and she just got to the main roster. If they give her the belt already it might feel anticlimactic. I guess it'd make sense to have Sasha win the belt back by tapping Charlotte, setting up a Sasha-Bayley feud with a slow burn where Sasha gradually turns on her buddy, much like how they did it in NXT. Hey, it was absolute GOLD, so why not try to recapture that magic? Also they've been teasing Charlotte vs. Dana Brooke forever, so it's probably time to pull the trigger there.
Justin's pick: Sasha
Dan's pick: Sasha
Universal Championship: Kevin Owens vs. Seth Rollins
This should be a helluva main event. Triple H hasn't been seen on WWE TV since he screwed Rollins over, and the only explanation we've been given thus far is Stephanie saying Rollins was handed everything by The Authority only to screw it all up. So they went with a new "chosen one." It's possible (read: likely) that Hunter shows up again here to cost Seth the match and set up an eventual Seth vs. Hunter match. At any rate Owens is obviously not losing the belt already.
Justin's pick: Owens retains
Dan's pick: Owens has to keep it. He's been great.
Well there's your Clash of Champions lineup. On paper this looks like a first-rate show. Hopefully it'll live up to expectations and be at least as good as Backlash. Given the relative strength of the RAW roster there's no reason it shouldn't. Comment below with your thoughts, and enjoy the show!