The build for WWE Clash of Champions continued on Raw this week as Kevin Owens battled Roman Reigns in a non-title match to see if Reigns would be added to the Owens vs. Seth Rollins Universal Title match at Indianapolis on Sept. 25. Reigns failed, but it wasn’t a clean ending either.
It was smart of WWE to advertise Owens vs. Reigns last week because of ESPN’s season-opening Monday Night Football NFL doubleheader. It’s a big match that had a lot on the line, even though it was obvious that Reigns wasn’t going to win.
They set up the match with some backstage segments earlier in the show as Raw General Manager Mick Foley told Seth Rollins not to interfere in the Owens/Reigns match or there would be consequences. Then they had Owens talk trash to Rollins by noting that most of the great things Rollins did in his career were because he had help from other people like Roman Reigns, Dean Ambrose, Triple H, Kane and even J&J Security. It was true because Rollins was a heel. Now that Rollins is a face, Rollins has to prove to the fans that he can do it on his own.
Reigns and Owens had a very competitive match. The action spilled out to the floor with Owens sending Reigns into the steel steps at ringside. As Owens celebrated that, Rollins ran down to the ring to attack Owens, much to the delight of the crowd. Foley sent down a bunch of referees to break it up. Foley got in Rollins’ face and told him he would face repercussions, but we never found out what those were.
The Reigns vs. Owens match was restarted. They really picked up the pace in this match for about 10 minutes. Plenty of believable near-falls for both guys. It’s amazing how much the crowd reacts to moves like Reigns’ one-armed Powerbomb as well as the Superman Punch. He never wins matches with those moves, yet they work so well in terms of getting a reaction.
When it looked Reigns was going to win, Rusev showed up in his ring gear. He had been away for a couple of weeks because he got married to Lana in Bulgaria for the second time (they had a California wedding as well) and was given time off for a honeymoon. Rusev jumped on the apron, Reigns hit a Superman Punch and Owens capitalized with a Popup Powerbomb on Reigns to beat him. It was a very good match with a screwy ending, which is fine because Owens is the kind of bad guy that should win cheap most of the time. That’s what the Kevin Owens character is.
After the main event was over, Rusev kicked Reigns in the head. Rusev applied the Accolade submission and that was the end of Raw. It looks like Rusev’s feud with Reigns is back on after they ignored it for the past three weeks.
The good thing about all of it is that the main event featured two matches that went about 25 minutes. Since Raw is a three-hour show, there is plenty of time to have long matches like that.
That means the top two matches at Clash of Champions will be fresh matchups, topped by Owens defending the Universal Title against new top good guy Rollins, who was not in a match on Raw this week. It’s not official yet, but there will likely be a Rusev vs. Reigns match for the US Title at the event.
I think the Owens vs. Rollins match will end with Triple H showing up to cost Rollins the victory. They had Triple H help Owens a couple of weeks ago and we haven’t seen him since. I think they are doing that for a reason because he’s going to screw Rollins over again. It could lead to Triple H vs. Rollins in a Hell in a Cell match at Raw’s October pay-per-view. Owens could have a match with Reigns at that show or maybe Sami Zayn one more time. I’m not sure what might happen, but it makes sense to me with Triple H returning to cost Rollins again.
This Week’s Raw Matches
It was another week with three really good matches, while the rest was pretty average.
Sasha Banks defeated Bayley vs. Dana Brooke
This was set up by a promo that opened Raw with the winner of this match getting to face Charlotte at Clash of Champions. Bayley beat Charlotte last week and Banks is the former champion, so they both deserve it. Brooke almost never wins, so how is she a contender? No idea. It’s WWE logic failure at its worst.
I figured that Brooke was just there to take the pin, but that didn’t happen. They had a really competitive match where all three women came close to winning. Banks had the Bank Statement submission on Brooke, but Bayley stopped it. Then Bayley covered Brooke after her Bayley to Belly suplex. Banks broke that up, pinned Bayley in a move where it looked like both of their shoulders were down and Banks got the win. There was no mention of the possible dual pin. The story is that Banks faces Charlotte again at Night of Champions.
Bo Dallas defeated Brandon Scott
Dallas gets another easy win just like last week. There was no Braun Strowman squash win this week. That’s a bit of a surprise. WWE is trying to reboot Dallas as a serious wrestler after booking him like a joke for a few years.
Cesaro defeated Sheamus in Match No. 5 in their Best of 7 Series. Sheamus leads the series 3-2.
The outcome of this was pretty obvious. Cesaro won match four at a non-televised event in England last Wednesday. There was an interesting finish to this 10-minute match with Cesaro getting a rollup and putting his feet on the ropes for leverage. A cheap win for a good guy? That’s pretty rare.
They will do match six next Monday on Raw with Cesaro winning that, and then it works out so that the seventh match will be at Clash of Champions later this month.
Nia Jax destroyed Alicia Fox
Jax was very physical with Fox right away. They went outside the ring and Jax speared Fox through a small piece of barricade by the timekeeper’s area at ringside. It looked impressive. Fox stayed down, so the match just ended without a result. They could do it again at Clash of Champions to put Jax over.
Luke Gallows & Karl Anderson defeated Xavier Woods & Kofi Kingston (w/Big E)
I’m not a fan of non-title matches featuring guys that are going to face off for the title in a couple of weeks. Whenever they do that, the challengers get the win as a way to show that they can beat the champs, but I think it does too much damage to the champions. Gallows & Anderson won clean with the Magic Killer double team move on Woods. Big E will probably replace Woods in the Clash of Champions match.
Jinder Mahal vs. Jack Swagger
It was a quick win for Mahal, who is now the “man that comes in peace.” The fans didn’t care about the match as Mahal won clean with a neckbreaker.
After the match, it was mentioned by announcer Tom Phillips that Swagger’s “Raw contract” is expiring soon. No comment from Swagger. Looks like a new story for him on Raw or maybe he’ll move to Smackdown. At least it’s something for him to do after doing nothing since the brand split.
Epico defeated Enzo Amore
Epico got the win, thanks to his partner Primo holding Enzo’s leg while he was trying to do a suplex. It was a short match to further this feud. The crowd cares about Enzo & Cass, but the Shining Stars get little to no reaction, so WWE is trying to build them up a bit. I guess we can pencil in Big Cass beating Primo next week because I doubt Primo is going to beat him.
The last 30 minutes of Raw were dedicated to the Reigns vs. Owens matches that I mentioned earlier.
Three Other Key Items From Raw
1. Chris Jericho had Sami Zayn as a guest on the Highlight Reel. It was pretty obvious where this was headed as soon as they were out there because neither man had a feud going into Clash of Champions. Jericho insulted Zayn for Zayn no longer being friends with Jericho’s “best friend” Kevin Owens.
It led to Zayn calling Jericho a stupid idiot if he thinks that Owens can be trusted. Jericho didn’t take too kindly to that, so he hit Zayn in the head with a cell phone and then dropped Zayn with a Codebreaker.
Later on Raw, the match was official for Clash of Champions: Zayn vs. Jericho. They’ve wrestled many times before including tag matches, but I don’t mind it as a PPV match. Zayn should get the win as the younger guy that’s on the rise.
2. It was good to see the women’s wrestlers in the opening segment. You don’t always see that on Raw. They dedicated the first 45 minutes of the show as well as three segments to them, if you include the promos along with the long match. I thought they advanced the storylines well.
While I think SmackDown has done a better job of involving more women in the storylines, Raw has more talent at the top of the division with Charlotte, Sasha Banks and Bayley leading the way. Dana Brooke still has to get better at a lot of things, but she’s getting there slowly. She certainly has the look that WWE likes.
3. Next week on Raw, the Cruiserweight division starts. I’m really excited about it. The Cruiserweight Classic has been a lot of fun to watch. I’m cautiously optimistic that it will be a great addition to the Raw brand because they have three hours to fill on the show, so they should give the cruiserweights a lot of time to have awesome matches. If they don’t, then they are wasting time.
I’ll have a column about the Cruiserweight Classic finale up here on Thursday with thoughts on who won the tournament, all the guys that are headed to Raw and what may happen to the wrestlers who didn’t sign contracts with WWE.
Looking Ahead To Clash Of Champions
The next Raw pay-per-view is Clash of Champions on Sept. 25. Here’s the lineup so far, with only one more week of Raw left to build it up.
WWE Universal Championship: Kevin Owens vs. Seth Rollins
WWE Raw Women’s Championship: Charlotte vs. Sasha Banks
WWE Raw Tag Team Championship: The New Day vs. Luke Gallows & Karl Anderson
Chris Jericho vs. Sami Zayn
Other matches that are likely are Rusev vs. Roman Reigns for the US Title and Cesaro vs. Sheamus in the Best of 7 seventh match because Cesaro will probably win next week in match six.
Based on angles that took place on Raw, Nia Jax vs. Alicia Fox is possible as well as Enzo & Cass vs. The Shining Stars. That would be eight matches in total. That’s a full card.
It was a pretty good show this week. The strength of Raw continues to be the ability to put on long matches. As I mentioned, the women were on for the first 40 minutes of the show while the main event took about 30 minutes. The WWE roster is so good right now that if you give the talent that much time, they are usually going to deliver good performances. I wish some of the booking was more compelling and they told some stories better. But for the most part, they are on the right track.
I think Clash of Champions is going to be a very good show. I’m intrigued by a few matches while others are rematches of feuds that may come to an end when it takes place on Sept. 25.
Remember to check out the Cruiserweight Classic two hour finale this Wednesday at 9 p.m. ET on WWE Network.