Repost: The SmarK Rant for WWE Clash of Champions 2016

The SmarK Rant for WWE Clash of Champions 2016

Minor point, but why can’t it be “Clash of THE Champions” like in WCW? Are definite articles considered too southern?

Live from Indianapolis, IN

Your hosts are Michael Cole, Corey Graves & Byron Saxton

RAW Tag titles: The New Day v. Luke Gallows & Karl Anderson

Kind of weird to hear the title announced as the “RAW tag titles”. Anderson attacks Kofi immediately and lays him out with a running powerbomb for two as Gallows takes out Big E and Xavier. Kofi takes the beats for a beat, but Big E comes in to clean house, and he also gets double-teamed right away. Spinebuster on Big E gets two, and they set up Kofi for the Magic Killer, but he wriggles free and hits Karl with the Trouble in Paradise, into the Big Ending for two. They brawl outside the ring and Kofi hits Gallows with a dive, while Woods uses the trombone on Anderson, and the Midnight Hour finishes at 6:41 to retain. Well that was certainly brisk. Literally all action, though. **1/2

Cruiserweight title: TJ Perkins v. Brian Kendrick

Decent reaction for both guys, but not exactly a star-level one. This is likely due to the fact that Perkins didn’t even get to appear on Raw after winning the title last week. Kendrick controls with a headlock, but TJ goes for the kneebar quickly and they wind up on the floor out of that. Kendrick beats on him out there and gets two. TJ hooks him in a pendulum crab and then into a Muta lock, but Kendrick makes the ropes. Nice spot as Kendrick tries to toss him and TJ tangles himself in the ropes, only to have Kendrick block a monkey flip and get two. TJ snaps off a rana to come back and build the all-important momentum, into a lungblower for two. Rolling suplexes and he goes up, but both guys hit the floor on a sloppy rana attempt. Back in, Kendrick tries Sliced Bread, but TJ fights him off, so Kendrick reverses to the Bully choke, and TJ reverses to the kneebar. Kendrick escapes with Sliced Bread #2 for two, and follows with the choke, but Perkins escapes with his kneebar again and Kendrick taps at 10:09. Good stuff that would have been helped immensely by some backstory and Mauro on commentary, but it wasn’t really on the same level as the CWC tournament stuff due to some nerves on the part of Perkins and a slower pace. ***1/4 I do like they’re keeping the stuff with the referee asking for a handshake and such. TJ does the inane interview afterwards, at which point Kendrick offers a hug and then lays him out.  (Well, that whole division went down the crapper pretty quickly afterwards.) 

Best of Seven: Cesaro v. Sheamus

Winner gets their second name back. Plus some sort of vague “championship opportunity”. But I like my idea better. Cesaro attacks with a dropkick and clotheslines him to the floor, then follows with a running uppercut to the railing. Back in, Sheamus goes to the back and gets two. Backbreaker follows and Sheamus goes to a chinlock, before coming off the top with a clothesline for two. Cesaro gets a sunset flip for two, but Sheamus hits a tilt a whirl backbreaker for two while the crowd rapidly loses interest in the match. Cesaro comes back with the running uppercuts and a DDT for two. 619 and a crossbody gets two, and that sets up the Giant Swing, but Sheamus rolls him up for two and gets another backbreaker for two. More backbreakers get two. Sheamus with the Cloverleaf to continue working the back, but Cesaro rolls him up for two. Sheamus spins him into an overhead backbreaker for two. Brogue Kick is countered into the Swing, and the Sharpshooter, but Cesaro’s back is in too much pain and he can’t hold onto it. Nice touch. Cesaro tries the apron superplex and Sheamus falls to the floor to counter, so Cesaro hits him with a suicide dive and nearly folds himself in half like Lita in 2006. Back in, Sheamus catches him with the Brogue Kick for two. Cesaro hits him even harder with a big boot and the Neutralizer, and that gets two. Mean guys being mean is always great. They slug it out and fight to the top, where Cesaro uppercuts him down and dropkicks him to the floor. This sets up the superplex, but Sheamus headbutts him to the apron and follows with a dive, which Cesaro counters via uppercut. Sheamus gives him White Noise on the floor and both guys are dead. They fight into the crowd off that and now the doctors get involved, so we get the lame double stoppage at 16:30. That was stupid and ruined a great match. ***3/4  (Of course, this turned out spectacularly well in the end and gave us a great tag team!) 

Sami Zayn v. Chris Jericho

Sami attacks to start in the corner, but Jericho pounds him until Zayn comes back with armdrags. They head to the floor Zayn gets a moonsault off the railing, but misses by a lot. Jericho sells it anyway, however. Back to the apron, where Jericho gets the springboard dropkick to put Zayn on the floor. Back in, Jericho works a chinlock, but Zayn reverses him into the corner to break. Sami makes the comeback and puts Jericho on the floor for a dive. Back in, a crossbody gets two. They fight to the top and get nowhere, but Jericho hits him with an enzuigiri and they slug it out as Sami makes another comeback. Lionsault misses and Sami cradles for two. Tornado DDT sets up the running kick, but Jericho bails to escape. Sami follows with the corner DDT, but Jericho gets the Walls back in the ring. Sami manages to reverse to a small package for two, but Jericho pops up top, and lands in a Blue thunder bomb for two. Codebreaker out of nowhere finishes for Jericho at 15:21, however. I guess Jericho is still getting that title shot next month, then. Another good match in a series tonight, although this one took a while to get into gear. ***1/4

Meanwhile, Kevin Owens gripes about being disrespected to Stephanie and Mick.

RAW Women’s title: Charlotte v. Sasha Banks v. Bayley

The video package for this match just shows how ludicrously overwritten and convoluted the buildup was, as even the editors can’t make sense of it. Possibly because was no one was sure of Sasha’s status after Summerslam, but geez, just pick a direction and stick to it. Also, the point of Dana Brooke being on the main roster continues to elude me. If there’s ANYONE who could have benefitted from staying on NXT and working with Asuka every night, it’s her. (I’ve made this point in other reposts before, but she somehow managed to get even WORSE as she went along!)  Charlotte and Sasha immediately brawl to the floor, but Bayley rolls up Sasha for two. All three women try a dropkick and miss, and then all three lay each other out. Sasha and Charlotte fight over a neckbreaker and Charlotte wins that one, but she goes up and Sasha brings her down for running knees in the corner. Bayley steals a two count off that and Charlotte bails. Back in, Charlotte knees Sasha from behind to take over and goes to work on the bad back. Suplex gets two. Sasha comes back with a flying headscissors and comes back with clotheslines, but Charlotte blocks the Banks Statement and Bayley puts them both down with a flying bodypress. Bayley makes her comeback on both at the same time, but misses a charge on Sasha and we get a double knee stack in the corner for two on Bayley. They all fight on the floor, but Charlotte catches Sasha with a backbreaker on the way back into the ring. Bayley catches Charlotte with the belly to Bayley for two, but Sasha rolls her up for two. Bayley gets posed while Sasha slugs it out with Charlotte and they fight to the top, giving us an ugly pair of spots as the babyfaces try to bring her down and bail. Charlotte moonsaults both at once and gets two off that. Neckbreaker on Bayley gets two, but the Banks Statement on Charlotte brings Dana in to break it up. Bayley rolls up Sasha for two, reversed for two, and Charlotte gets rid of Bayley and rolls Sasha up for two. Another Banks Statement on Charlotte follows and Sasha gets rid of Dana, but Bayley breaks it up. Sasha puts her in the Statement next, but Charlotte breaks that up and gets rid of Sasha on the floor. Back in, Bayley cradles Charlote for two, but Sasha and Bayley collide and Charlotte pins Bayley to retain at 15:28. I don’t understand any of this. Why go through all the trouble to put Bayley into the match and then just beat her? (Yeah, it’d get worse for Bayley.)  The match was not great, with a lot of mistimed stuff and no real storyline to it. In particular the finish looked botched, as Bayley was visibly looking towards the apron and waiting for Sasha to hit her mark while trying to do the sunset flip on Charlotte, and it was really distracting. **1/4

US title: Rusev v. Roman Reigns

Lana’s Russian accent gets thinner by the day, which I can only assume is due to integration into the American lifestyle to better infiltrate us. The naming conventions of these titles are really wacky, as we have the “RAW Women’s title” and “RAW tag team titles”, but “WWE US title” and “WWE Universal title”. I can only imagine newer fans trying to decode all this brand extension double-speak. Reigns attacks to start and Rusev bails to think it over. Back in, they slug it out and Rusev puts him down with a leg lariat for two and stomps away. Reigns is so incredibly hated that fans would rather cheer a dirty commie than him, albeit one who is awesome. Rusev pounds away on the ribs, but Reigns comes back with clotheslines to a chorus of boos until Rusev cuts him with a shot to the post. They lumber around the floor slugging it out until Rusev sends him into the stairs to get the heat. Well, what heat there is here. We go to the chinlock and Rusev follows with a headbutt and a nice dropkick. Splash misses and Reigns comes back with a samoan drop for two and clotheslines him to the floor. Cole sums up everything wrong with the Reigns push as makes sure to note that Roman never betrays any weakness, and stays positive at all times. That’s the PROBLEM with the character! Back in, Rusev blocks the superman punch with a kick to the gut and rolls him up for two. High kick, but Reigns catches him with the superman punch for two. Rusev takes out the back again and sets up the Accolade, but Reigns spears him for two as Lana pulls out the ref and gets tossed as a result. Reigns rolls him up for two after that distraction, and they fight to the floor again. Reigns gets a pair of Drive-by kicks, but walks into the superkick for two. Accolade follows, but Reigns of course powers out and spears him again for the title at 17:08. And I bet this time, this will be the thing that gets him over as a main eventer after literally every other attempt has failed. Thankfully the finish was heated after a pretty dull start. ***  (That US title reign for Reigns was a complete waste of everyone’s time.) 

Universal title: Kevin Owens v. Seth Rollins

This is another one with an overwritten and convoluted storyline, which still hasn’t been explained mind you. And I gotta say, this does not feel like a PPV main event, like at all. Although go back a few years and tell me that Kevin Steen v. Tyler Black is main eventing a WWE PPV, and I’d laugh at you. Cole has a fun story about how Owens attended his first WWF PPV 21 years ago, the dreadful In Your House III. And he still wanted to become a wrestler after that trauma? Rollins sends him to the floor and hits the running knee off the apron, and back in for a Buff Blockbuster that gets two. He tries the Pedigree and Owens counters to the apron and comes back with a DDT for two. They slug it out and Owens puts him down with an elbow to the head for two. KO goes to work on the knee and backdrops Rollins to the floor, then drops a Cactus elbow after some sarcastic enquiries about Rollins’ health. Back in, senton gets two. It’s time for CHINLOCK CITY and Owens works over the back until Rollins comes back with a clothesline out of the corner. Backbreaker gets two. They fight to the floor and Seth preps the Spanish table, but they head back in and Rollins gets a superkick for two. Blind charge misses and Owens takes out the knee to cut him off, and the cannonball gets two. Owens tries the package piledriver, but Rollins comes back with a high knee and both guys are down. They’re trying for epic and the crowd just isn’t biting. Owens misses the cannonball on a second attempt, but a package backbreaker gets two. Owens goes up and Rollins follows, but KO wins the battle with an exploding gutbuster and frog splash for two. Graves sums up the motivation for the match: “Seth Rollins believes he belongs in the WWE Universal championship situation.” Strong words. Back to the floor to finally pay off that table spot, as Owens tries a senton and goes through the Spanish table…and then the Network drops me back to the main screen because we hit the three hour mark and apparently this show has ANOTHER overrun. Like, seriously, the Smackdown show was stretched to ridiculous extremes just to make 2:40, and now the RAW show is so bloated that it goes 10 minutes overtime? There’s a happy medium, ya know. It’s called 2:50. (It’s only been getting worse since then.)  Back in, Seth with the flying knee as the crowd suddenly thinks the match is awesome because a table got broken. Perhaps they should have done that 20:00 ago. Rollins frog splash gets two and now Jericho runs down for the distraction, allowing Owens to hit a powerbomb for two. And of course the heels collide and Rollins comes back with a Pedigree for two before Jericho saves. Rollins chases him and the ref is bumped, but Rollins hits the Pedigree for the visual pinfall. And then Jericho attacks Rollins, but gets hit with a dive while the ref is obviously in need of medical attention. Where are the 17 doctors who stopped the Cesaro-Sheamus match due to hangnail? Ref #2 is out in time for Owens to powerbomb Rollins to retain at 25:17 for the anticlimactic finish. This was WAY overbooked garbage and felt like a flat finish to the show. ***

The Pulse

The show started strong and looked like another one that was going to way overdeliver, but after the Cesaro match there was just a bunch of bad finishes and *** matches, all stuff you could already see on TV every week. Not bad, not good, just there. And with the deliberately stacked roster and extra time that RAW has, there’s no excuse for Smackdown to be showing them up on PPV. Thumbs in the middle.  (I think this one finished high in the “Worst Major Show” voting for 2016, although Wrestlemania managed to pull out the win by virtue of being 7 hours long.)