It’s been a funny old time in the WWE since the one-two-punch of SummerSlam and Payback; things have actually had time to simmer and grow towards their next pay-per-view. I mean…not everything but most of the matches on the card actually have some history and build behind them rather than just being slapped together in a few hours. Keep in mind, though, that now that Retribution have been “officially signed” to Raw, it’s likely we’ll see quite a few shenanigans involving them here.
Honestly, though, it feels to me like the Clash of Champions moniker is disingenuous; it’s a great excuse to actually get all of the WWE’s championships on an event and actually defend for a change but the very nature of the name says to me that we should be seeing champions against champions in a cross-brand event rather than seeing regular challenges stepping up. I guess it would take away from the spectacle of Survivor Series (which has basically been combined with Bragging Rights these days, as it should be) but I disagree as I feel you could toss NXT into Survivor Series and, y’know, actually have Survivor Series team-based matches there to keep it distinct.
There’s quite a weird story around how this match came out; the other week, on Raw, Asuka was facing off with Mickie James and, in the finale of the match, there was this really strange moment where the referee randomly stopped the match because Mickie’s selling was apparently so good that he thought she was legitimately hurt. Then, immediately after that, Zelina Vega, frustrated at her clients Andrade and Angel Garza constantly arguing and having issues, stormed to the ring, slapped Asuka, and that was enough to earn her a title shot.
Now, I know that wins and losses only matter in the WWE when they decided that they do but this is really, really weak not only because I’m struggling to think of when Zelina has ever even been in a match much less won one prior to this and it’s quite jarring to see a women bets known for being a manager and mouthpiece randomly jump to the top of the pile. Because of this, I really don’t see Zelina wining here; I’m betting the WWE is hoping to drag this out a little longer and maybe she’ll get the upset later down the line but it’d be just bizarre if she not only appeared out of nowhere but also won the title out of nowhere, too.
My prediction: Asuka by submission, championship retained
Yep, it’s the feud that will seemingly never end. Since capturing the United States Championship, Bobby Lashley has gone on a bit of a week-by-week, hour-by-hour identity crisis thanks to his fellow Hurt Business team mates as, one minute, he, MVP, Shelton Benjamin, and Cedric Alexander will be beating the hell out of faces/Apollo Crews, the next minute they are the only group standing up to Retribution and leading the charge against them. It’s very baffling as they’ll be faces in the first hour, then heels in the second, then faces again for the third hour of Raw making it difficult to know who to really root for as it’s confusing to cheer or boo Lashley now and Apollo has lost and made a fool of so much that any momentum he had from his recent push has well and truly fizzled out.
My prediction: Bobby Lashley by submission, championship retained
So, despite constantly excelling every time he’s in the ring, performing fantastic physical feats, and still having a very vocal cult following, Cesaro has once again been relegated to the tag team ranks and has solidified his newest makeshift team with fellow main roster disappointment, Shinsuke Nakamura. While this does, admittedly, give them both something to do, it is a disappointing waste of their talents but what makes this even worse is the fact that Friday Night Smack Down is, apparently, so light on tag teams that the Lucha House Party has not only managed to get themselves a title shot but has even scored a win or two over Cesaro in recent weeks. There have been some hints of dissention in the group, however, thanks to disagreements over leadership so I think we might see something of a double turn here that, sadly, will result in Cesaro losing yet again.
My prediction: The Lucha House Party by pin fall, new champions crowned
Here’s another feud that just refuses to die no matter how many victories, defeats, and story “twists” their rivalry takes. Recently, Andrade and Garza have been having some issues and even came to blows so it seemed like the team was going to part ways but, just as quickly, they managed to get themselves another shot at the Street Profits. However, now that Zelina seems to have split herself from the two, I think this will be the final gasp for this makeshift team and some sort of miscommunication will see them lose and then go at it again. The only question is: Which of the two will come out of it being the face and will the WWE actually bother to put some effort into moving them up the card in a meaningful way?
My prediction: The Street Profits by pin fall, championships retained
Considering I’m somewhat against the WWE really putting so much time and effort into Jeff Hardy since he’s something of a liability, his story has surprisingly excelled since moving away from that seemingly never-ending feud with Sheamus and captured the Intercontinental Championship. Being in a feud with AJ Styles helps with that; in a very short time, Styles has pretty much done everything in the WWE and yet still continues to put on great matches no matter who he is facing, which is great news for getting some good, solid, reliable work out of Jeff.
Then, out of nowhere, Sami Zayn felt comfortable enough to return to work and, in a twist, brought with him the Intercontinental Championship he never lost and, with it, the old “I’m the real champion!” storyline that we haven’t seen for some time. Even better, in the last weeks building up to this match, Jeff busted ut a ladder and the WWE had the balls to put a ladder match on outside of their annual TLC event, which really mixes things up nicely. Hopefully, this one will steal the show and Jeff won’t take too many risks but I think it’s only fair that Sami use underhanded tactics to capture the belt, become the undisputed Intercontinental Champion, and have Jeff chase him for another month or so.
My prediction: Sami Zayn by seizing the belt, new champion crowned
So, I mentioned up above that the good thing about Clash of Champions is that it actually gets all of the WWE’s main roster titles on a pay-per-view and that includes the lesser-spotted WWE Women’s Tag Team Championships, a set of belts so overlooked by the WWE that they may as well not exist. Sadly, the belts are currently still in the possession of the makeshift team of Shayna Baszler and Nia Jax, who are knee deep in the middle of the “mismatched partners who don’t get along but are a team/champions” and the Riott Squad only just got back together so I don’t see the powerhouses losing the belts here, or any time soon. If anything, it’s going to take a more formidable super team-up of women to dethrone the two, something the women’s division is lacking at the moment, so I think we’re in for a lengthy reign for these two.
My prediction: Shayna Baszler and Nia Jax by pin fall, championships retained
And then we come to this match; having aligned himself with Paul Heyman, captured the Universal Championship, and established himself as Smack Down’s top heel, Roman Reigns has finally been allowed to cut a little loose and regain a lot of his edge. Sadly, though, it seems the WWE aren’t quite ready to fully commit to a babyface turn for the Fiend, Bray Wyatt, so they instead slapped together a “Gold Rush” match to determine Reigns’ first challenger and who else came out on top than Roman’s cousin, Jey Uso.
Yep. Jey Uso. Lifelong tag team wrestler who has never shown anything that even remotely justifies a solo run, much less a title shot, won a shot over Matt Riddle, King Corbin, and Sheamus. Now, to be fair, it’s maybe a bit too soon for Riddle to challenge for and win the championship but…seriously, there wasn’t anyone else available for this shot? Apparently, Jimmy Uso’s injury caused some massive changes to Smack Down’ storylines and I guess Jey’s push is the result of that but, for my money, Roman’s heel turn marks the perfect opportunity for him to align with the Usos in a heel stable and if you want anyone to face against Reigns why not push another guy who’s been in the middle of a storyline revolving around him having a singles run since his team mates are out injured? Yep, the WWE went Jey Uso over Big E. Just let that sink in for a second.
My prediction: Roman Reigns by pin fall, championship retained
So we finally saw Bayley turn on Sasha Banks, attacking her and putting her in a neck brace, so of course it’s Nikki Cross who gets to face her at Clash of Champions. Doesn’t make sense? Welcome to the world of the WWE, my friends! Make no mistake about it, this match is little more than padding to extend the Sasha/Bayley storyline and the ongoing story involving Alexa Bliss apparently being captivated, possessed, and possibly controlled by the Fiend. Sadly, I feel these bigger, conflicting stories will take the focus off of Nikki and her latest attempt at winning the championship and will most likely result in some kind of bullshit finish where Sasha runs down to interfere but Alexa snaps and takes her out and the whole thing gets called off, or something, so we can “naturally” segue to Sasha/Bayley and Nikki/Alexa.
My prediction: Bayley by no contest/disqualification, championship retained
And we’re back on with Drew McIntyre and randy Orton; both men have been a little sidetracked lately with Keith Lee, who continues to get involved in their business and the title scene. Sadly, though, his win over Orton at Payback apparently isn’t enough to get him officially inserted into the title picture; he probably should have bitch slapped Drew like Zelina did to Asuka and then maybe he would have had more luck.
While this feud has seen some great mic work from Orton, and has really showcased his sadistic new character, made Drew look both vulnerable and smart and tough at the same time, and put Lee on a decent platform for his main roster debut, we have also seen stupid childish shit like badly PhotoShopping pictures of guys both men have “put in hospital” with their respective finishing moves. This is why we’re getting an ambulance match, which, again, is a surprising inclusion of a gimmick the WWE usually saves for events like Extreme Rules, though I suspect the real reason fort he ambulance being there is so that Keith can pop out of it at a crucial moment in the match.
My prediction: Drew McIntyre, championship retained
How excited are you for Clash of Champions: Gold Rush? Which match do you think will steal the show or let the card down? Who are your picks to win and lose? Do you think Retribution will play a role in the event’s proceedings? Feel free to share your thoughts and predictions in the comments below and pop back on Monday for my rundown of what went down.