The SmarK Rant for WWE Clash of Champions 2020: Gold Rush! – 09.27.20
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Your hosts are Michael Cole and the usual people.
Intercontinental title, ladder match: Jeff Hardy v. Sami Zayn v. AJ Styles
Everyone slugs it out to start and Jeff takes out the other two with his bulldog/clothesline combo, although that took some setting up. Jeff goes for the ladder and AJ hits him with a slingshot forearm to the floor, but Sami follows with his own moonsault onto AJ. Funny bit as Cole is putting over all the former IC champions and comes to the Miz, who has held it “More times than…just about anyone.” Well, there’s one other guy who’s held it more but I guess we don’t talk about him any more. Back in the ring, Jeff backdrops Sami into the ladder to get rid of him. Jeff dives at AJ from the middle rope, but lands on a ladder in a scary bump, with his ribs hitting the middle supports and breaking them. There can’t be any safe way to take that one. AJ whips Sami into another ladder while Sami bumps all over the place here, and AJ makes the first climb. Sami hauls him down, but gets laid out, and then AJ slugs it out with Jeff and they’re both down. Sami tries for the belt and AJ stops him, so Sami sends him into the ladder with an exploder and climbs again. Jeff cuts that off and they all slug it out on the floor and everyone is down again. Sami wins that battle and makes the climb, but AJ throws a stepladder at him from the floor and hits Sami’s hand in the process. That was a pretty amazing shot, actually. Jeff and AJ slug it out on top of the ladder and both go down and out of the ring, leaving Sami alone again thanks to some well-timed cowering in the corner. Sami once again stays out of the way while Hardy and AJ take each other out, but then Jeff hits Sami with a Twist of Fate and everyone is out again. Jeff climbs, but Sami pushes the ladder over while Jeff does a weird attempt to climb down the ladder and Jeff ends up taking an ugly bump to the floor while tied up in the ladder. They’re way overthinking this one. Sami sets up a ladder bridge outside, but AJ hits him with the moonsault DDT off the table. He tries to slam Sami onto the ladder bridge, but of course the bridge falls down because not much is going right in this match thus far. So they set up the spot again and Jeff goes up another ladder and puts Zayn through the ladder with a swanton and they’re both out. This leaves AJ alone in the ring and he makes the climb, but Jeff pushes him over. So then Sami recovers and runs wild on the other two again before finding some handcuffs in his jacket, and we get a weird deal where he handcuffs Jeff through the earlobe piercing and onto a ladder. Ick. Luckily AJ has no orifices available, but Sami handcuffs himself to AJ the old-fashioned way and then goes dead weight on AJ so he can’t climb the ladder. But then Sami unhooks himself with the key while Jeff and AJ continue their battle, and he cuffs AJ to the ladder and grabs the titles at 26:45. I thought it was about 10 minutes too long and they just got way too cute with all the twists and turns, but it was a fine ladder match otherwise. ***1/4
Meanwhile, R-Truth is in disguise backstage, but he stops by the referee room and gets rolled up by Drew Gulak.
RAW Women’s title: Asuka v. Zelina Vega
Really, Zelina Vega? Asuka toys with her to start and takes her down for two, but Vega takes a shot at the arm. Asuka works on a headlock and goes for the armbar (“That is a big dirty armbar!” notes Samoa Joe) but Vega makes the ropes. They head to the top and Vega fights her off, but Asuka puts her on the floor with the hip attack off the apron. Back in, Vega goes to work on the arm, but Asuka fights out and Vega takes her down with a rana for two. She’s been working hard on her “Grab her head dramatically and make a shocked face” lessons, I see. Perhaps next she can work on doing an armbar properly. And then Asuka reverses another armbar and puts her away with the Asuka-lock, which she barely sinks in, at 6:57. Vega looked like a green, raw rookie here and I never bought her as a threat for a second. It was barely a TV level squash. * And then Asuka offers a handshake, but Vega attacks her, so I guess this feud must continue.
US title: Bobby Lashley v. Apollo Crews
Is this feud STILL going? Lashley works the arm, but Crews clotheslines him to the floor and follows with a moonsault. Back in, Crews with a crossbody for two. True story: There’s a local rock band here called “Apollo Cruz”, which I have to think has to be deliberate. Of course the same place also features “Brewster and the Roosters” so your mileage may vary, quality-wise. Lashley chokes him out on the ropes while MVP lays the badmouth on him, and they fight on the floor as Crews sends him into the stairs. Back in, Apollo makes the comeback with a corner splash and they head to the floor again. Back in, Crews gets the gorilla slam and standing moonsault for two. Lashley gets a superplex for two to set up the Dominator, but Apollo lands on his feet and goes up with a frog splash for two. Lashley comes back with a chokeslam and that sets up the full nelson to finish at 8:15. They’ve had a million matches and this was certainly one of them. **1/2
RAW Tag team titles: The Street Profits v. Andrade & Angel Garza
Even the ANNOUNCERS are lampshading the fact that Angel and Andrade have already had a million title shots and failed multiple times! The heels take Dawkins into the corner for some double-teaming, but Dawkins hits a dropkick on Andrade to get away, and it’s over to Ford with dropkicks. Angel comes in and it’s PANTS OFF as the announcers are like “Oh hey, maybe they’re actually not going to break up this time!” So if they’re barely able to function as a team then why are they even in contention for a title? Angel gets a running knee on Ford for two, but he fights back with a backdrop suplex and brings Dawkins back in. He suplexes everyone, but walks into a dropkick from Andrade. Double knees miss, however, and it’s back to Montez. Angel brings him in with a Spanish Fly for two. Ford goes for another tag, but Andrade takes out Dawkins to prevent it and they work on Ford in their corner. Double knees from Andrade gets two. But then Dawkins gets tagged in again, hits Andrade with a spinebuster, and pins him to retain at 8:17. Andrade clearly kicked out but the ref counted three anyway, which was weird. And then we see Garza out on the floor getting looked at by medical staff, so I’m assuming they had to go home in a hurry and that’s why there was no real heat segment and it felt like a giant portion of the match was missing. **1/4
Meanwhile, Drew Gulak chats with Kayla about his successful 24/7 win, and dedicates the win to Akira Tozawa, who was “apparently eaten by a shark this Monday on RAW”, but R-Truth sneaks up and pins him to regain the title. Wait, Tozawa was EATEN BY A SHARK? I feel like that needs more exploration.
Bayley joins us, and Nikki Cross is “not medically cleared”, which I’m guessing is WWE-code for “The ‘Rona”. Bayley wants to be declared the winner by forfeit, but Asuka comes out and it’s suddenly an unadvertised champion v. champion match.
Smackdown Women’s title: Bayley v. Asuka
Bayley gets thrown around and tries to take a walk, but Asuka sends her in and hits the hip attack for two. She tries the Asuka-lock, but Bayley makes the ropes and necks her to escape. Bayley with a back suplex for two and she goes to work on the arm. Bayley goes up and lands in a codebreaker from Asuka, but Bayley heads to the floor, so Asuka hits her with a german suplex on the floor. And then Bayley hits her with a chair for the DQ at 3:40. This didn’t go anywhere, like everything else so far. *1/2 This brings Sasha out of the “crowd” with a chairshot and they brawl in the ring, where Sasha beats on her with a kendo stick and chases her off. This probably would have worked better with an audience, but what can ya do?
WWE title, Ambulance match: Drew McIntyre v. Randy Orton
Drew slugs away in the corner to start, but Randy goes for the RKO and then catches Drew in the ropes while he escapes. Draping DDT and Orton is already setting up the punt, but Big Show shows up and chokeslams him through the announce table. I haven’t been following the weekly TV very closely so I’ll assume there was a reason for that and move on with my life. Drew follows Orton to the floor and beats on him out there, and then brings him to the ambulance and runs him into that. He manages to find a steel chair with a Red Cross symbol on it, so I guess it’s an emergency chair. But then Orton hits him in the jaw and they fight in the back of the ambulance while the announcers seem unsure of what the rules of the match actually are. Orton tries to get into the cab of the ambulance for some reason, but Drew headbutts him to stop him and then tries a Claymore kick, which misses and takes the door off the ambulance off its hinges. Come on now. Could they make that look any more fake? So they head to the back, but now Christian attacks Orton this time, also looking for revenge. So this trip to the back leads to nothing outside of Christian’s cameo, as they head right back to the ambulance and fight on the hood, where Drew takes a bump on the windshield. They fight onto the roof, but Orton sends him to the floor again, at which point Shawn Michaels appears like magic and superkicks Orton off the ambulance and onto a waiting crash pad. Drew tries to haul him into the ambulance after having three people trying to help him win, but Orton fights him off with an RKO on the concrete. Orton gets him into the back and dramatically closes one door, but then can’t get the second one and Drew escapes and hits the kick. But he decides not to just close the doors and punts Orton instead, and then closes the doors to retain at 21:35. Most of this was just the usual Walking Simulator 2020 stuff stretched out to 20 minutes, and I’m pretty shocked that they didn’t put the belt on Orton since he’s been the hot hand for months now. I mean really, they spent the better part of 15 minutes just hanging around that ambulance and there’s only so much you can do with it. **1/4
Universal title: Roman Reigns v. Jey Uso
Finally Roman ditches the armor and it’s immediately a HUGE improvement and makes him look like a star again. They should have done that years ago. Roman wins a lockup in the corner and just stares Uso down, and then throws him out of the corner and stares him cold again. WHERE WAS THIS YEARS AGO?! Jey stops to dance, so Roman throws him out of the ring and gives him the quality shit talk. Back in, Jey fights back, but Roman clotheslines him for two. Heyman chimes in with the speechifying from the floor (“He’s a little bossy, ain’t he?”) while Roman beats on Jey and sends him to the floor again. Roman just calmly beats on him, and back in for two. Roman just calmly headlocks him and cranks on it, but Jey comes back with a samoan drop for two. And then Roman just nails him with the superman punch, acting offended that he even has to hurt his own hand delivering the move. Jey goes to the floor again, so Roman goes out there and punches his lights out. Back in for two as Roman just doesn’t want to pull the trigger and finish him off. Jey fights back and Roman just slugs him and he’s like “What is your PROBLEM?” but still doesn’t have the heart to just end it. Jey fights back again and manages to send Roman into the post and to the floor. Back in for an enzuigiri that puts Roman on the floor again, and Jey follows with a dive. Back in, that gets two. Superkick gets two. Roman comes back with a Rough Rider for two, however, and now he’s had enough of this shit. Spear misses, however, and Jey superkicks him to set up the flying splash for two. But Jey hurts himself doing the move, and Roman spears him and would like to be called the Tribal Chief, thank you very much. Jey’s not into that, so Roman hits him with another spear and once again demands to be called Chief. Jey still has too much pride, so Roman just batters him and then tells off the ref for getting in his business. And then he just beats Jey into unconsciousness until Jimmy comes out and wants to throw in the towel. But this just makes Roman EVEN MORE mad and evil, and he beats Jey into a quivering pool of Jello until Jimmy throws it in at 23:00. And with that, the Usos declare him to be the tribal chief. Oh man, if the Rock was able to do another match, this would HAVE to be leading up to them settling the tribal chief at Wrestlemania. This was some tremendous storytelling to end the show, the kind of match you couldn’t really pull off with a normal crowd, and I’m all aboard the Reigns Train with this stuff. ****
A decidedly OK-at-best show leading up to a main event that I’d say is well worth going out of your way to see. This new Roman character is MONEY and it’s no wonder he’s carrying Smackdown’s ratings right now.