WWE Clash of Champions 2016
September 25, 2016
Bankers Life Fieldhouse
Indianapolis, Indiana

Watch: WWE Network

Meet our previewers:

  • Sean Flynn: Semi-retired VOW writer, leaving hibernation mostly for WWE previews and random women’s wrestling articles. Has begun to hate-delete Raw rather than hate-watch. Come at him bro on Twitter @spiffie6123
  • Robin Reid: VOW’s BritWres Ambassador and host of the BritWres Roundtable, Robin does occasionally watch non-European wrestling too. Like RAW, unfortunately. Find him on twitter @theRDouble
  • Kelly Harrass: A member of the VOW new blood that enjoys covering the strange side of the squared circle. He feels like he’s done this very recently. Find him spewing all sorts of nonsense on Twitter @comicgeekelly.

Kickoff Match
Alicia Fox vs. Nia Jax

Sean Flynn: One of the few things WWE still seems to understand about wrestling is that you book a monster by letting them beat the hell out of a lot of people. Especially people who have no real value, but still have a recognition factor. Sure the follow-up inevitably sucks, but the build is still solid. Jax continues the push in a squashy match and Alicia Fox amazes everyone with her continued employment. Prediction: Nia Jax

Robin Reid: The inexorable march of Jax continues. She’s been fine squashing no-names, and I imagine she’ll continue to be inoffensive but unspectacular hear in defeating Fox. Prediction: Nia Jax

Kelly Harrass: Is this it? Is this the big moment where someone on the main roster finally manages to conquer the monstrous force that is Nia Jax? Of course not. Prediction: Nia Jax

Match #7 in Best of 7 Series
Cesaro vs. Sheamus

Sean Flynn: I really want to see Cesaro succeed in the way most of us feel he should. But for whatever reason it just doesn’t seem to be working out in WWE right now. And Sheamus has become his generation’s Randy Orton, the guy who is good and can be moved into the main event scene when needed and not confuse Vince. As the final match in the series I expect both guys to let it all hang out and beat the hell out of each other. Now excuse me while I go off and dream of Cesaro at the Tokyo Dome on 1/4/17. Prediction: Sheamus

Robin Reid: I’ve enjoyed pretty much every match in this series but they’ve all felt like something is being held back. One would hope that this will be the match where they go all out and deliver big time and make the series feel more than just stalling for a month. The outcome has a lovely extra wrinkle in that it will likely give a large indication as to where you’re going to be seeing Cesaro in the near future. I think he’ll end up sticking around, but I’d almost rather he didn’t. Prediction: Cesaro

Kelly Harrass: If you predicted that this best of seven series would go the distance, then you’ve clearly seen a best of seven series in wrestling before. This is the first and only match of the series that truly matters and will determine which man gets a future WWE Universal Championship shot (as long as they haven’t dropped that from the story). It looks like Cesaro is primed to complete his big comeback, even though Sheamus and his own damaged back want to keep that from happening. It would seem that the decision of the match isn’t left up to what happens in the ring, but it instead hinges on Cesaro’s contract status. Last that I heard, Cesaro’s deal wraps up this month and it was unknown whether he would resign with the company. A big push and a potential title run is solid motivation to sign a new contract, but then again, losing to Sheamus in a decisive fashion seems like a probable way for Cesaro to leave the territory as well. While I wouldn’t mind seeing Cesaro as a member of the New Japan roster, I would like for him to find success in WWE before he makes his exit. In all honesty, I’d much rather have Cesaro in the main event scene than Sheamus, so my prediction is really more like hopeful thinking. Prediction: Cesaro

Cruiserweight Title Match
TJ Perkins (c) vs. Brian Kendrick

Sean Flynn: Dead division walking! Crowds for these events are generally more broad-based in their wrestling knowledge and tastes, so I don’t think we’re looking at crickets for this match. But I can’t see these two having a match that generates a ton of buzz, which is what this division needs a lot of coming out of the gate. If they were going for the nostalgia pop by using Kendrick here, they would have been better off going with Tajiri. Either way, the division is likely to rest on Perkins, so he has to start doing work here. Prediction: TJ Perkins

Robin Reid: What a weird way to introduce somebody to your broader audience: as a champion making a defense on a PPV. That’s got to be some sort of first, right? Both guys really impressed me during the Cruiserweight Classic, with Kendrick especially going way above and beyond my expectations for him, but for whatever reason I’m just not feeling the hype for them. Kendrick has gone from being ‘that older guy who many view as washed up desperately clinging to his last chance’ to being ‘that guy who went away in 2009 is back and is now a roster member’ and the emotional story just isn’t there anymore. I’m sure this’ll be a good match and a good first defense for Perkins, but they really could have done with a great match to kick off the division and I’m not sure this will be it. Prediction: TJ Perkins

Kelly Harrass: I’m torn on how I feel about this match. Initially I thought Kendrick was the best choice because he would be the most familiar to the WWE audience, but unless you count Total Divas, he hasn’t been around in years. Now WWE has fans that were born after he was released. Kendrick is as much of a blank slate as any of the other three guys in the fatal four way we saw on Monday night. I can only assume that Kendrick is here to play the role of veteran gatekeeper, which seems odd seeing as he is the challenger in this match. Meanwhile the champion in this match, TJ Perkins, is a complete unknown quantity to the Raw/Smackdown/PPV crowd. Perkins and Kendrick need to come out here and kill it because they’ve been set up to fail. We’ll likely get a strong first title defense for Perkins. Here’s hoping they blow the doors off the place! Prediction: TJ Perkins

RAW Tag Titles Match
The New Day (c) vs. Luke Gallows & Karl Anderson

Sean Flynn: New Day may not be anywhere near as hot as they were earlier this year, but they’re still one of the few acts on the Raw roster that gets a reaction every time out. Meanwhile Gallows & Anderson have become just another team of big white dudes. They could just as easily be Wade Barrett and Jack Swagger and no one would notice. WWE likes dependability, and I suspect the solid and steady team keeps the belts. Prediction: New Day

Robin Reid: One of the worst feuds I’ve seen anywhere all year has killed any interest I might have had for this on-paper solid looking match. Which is a shame because three quarters of the participants in this match are very good wrestlers. New Day will probably retain, and I’ll likely be more interested in whatever Amber O’Neil is tweeting out during this one than the match itself. Prediction: New Day

Kelly Harrass: I feel like I say this every time that New Day defends the tag titles, but I think we’ll finally see them lose the belts here. The New Day is going to be over whether they have the tag championships or not, that’s just a fact. Gallows and Anderson have had some awful “comedy” to deliver as of late and they could really use the titles to give them some legitimacy. Regardless of that, I think they’ll continue to treat Gallows and Anderson like geeks and continue the dominating title run of the New Day. Prediction: New Day

RAW Women’s Title – No DQ, No Countout Match
Charlotte (c) vs. Bayley vs. Sasha Banks

Sean Flynn: This will be the first time for the Raw fans to see Bayley and hopefully get a look at what all the fuss is about. I have to believe that Bayley can hold up her end of the match as well as Becky Lynch did at Mania this year, so I have high hopes for this one. I just don’t know what you do with this match right now. Neither Banks nor Bayley should be losing right now, but someone has to. I guess? Maybe? Given how much Raw loves wacky conflicts and opportunities to give us more Stephanie McMahon whenever possible, I say somehow Bayley and Sasha both pin Charlotte. That’s right, dual Women’s champs! Prediction: Sasha Banks AND Bayley

Robin Reid: Like many matches on this card, I should be more excited for this one. Lynch, Charlotte and Banks had a really good match together at WrestleMania, and Bayley is about a good a replacement for Lynch as you could hope for. The problem here is two-fold. First the triple threat has felt very rushed in its build. It looked like we were set to see Bayley vs. Charlotte here, but then they through Banks into the mix for no real reason, which is a bizarre move given that it’s not a particularly deep division and you’d think they’d want to stretch programmes out somewhat. Secondly, the triple threat almost feels like a secondary issue to everything that’s going on between Dana and Charlotte. I like Dana, and see a lot of potential in her, but her as a face against Charlotte is not the way to go. It is the way they’re going though, so Charlotte is retaining here. Prediction: Charlotte

Kelly Harrass: As long as they stay away from shenanigans, this match has a very high ceiling. All three women are very capable of putting on great matches and they’ve proven that they all work well together. It’s a strong possibility that Charlotte won the belt at SummerSlam to lose the belt here to Bayley. That gives Bayley a strong win and saves the future Bayley/Sasha single title match. I would rather not seem them hot potato the belt around, but it seems likely that will be the case. Plus now with Nia Jax having a win over an established member of the roster, I could easily see her as the next in line for a title shot and who better than Bayley to face down a monster? Prediction: Bayley

Sami Zayn vs. Chris Jericho

Sean Flynn: This match can be looked at one of ways. Zayn is a great babyface, and Jericho is one of the few true heels on Raw, so the crowd should be really into the match. Zayn is, to Raw audiences at least, the new young guy on the scene, up against the wiliest of veterans in Jericho, so the match story should be well-told and compelling. Zayn is one of the best wrestlers in the world, and Jericho knows how to be a great wrestler, even if the flesh is sometimes unwilling, so the in-ring work should be close to top-shelf. Or Zayn is a cooled-off face in a throwaway match against an old veteran who can’t work at the kind of pace needed to get the crowd interested. Everybody’s right, everybody’s wrong, everybody’s talkin’ at me. I’m hoping that they work the match a little slower, and allow Jericho’s character work to be the driver, rather than trying to force a match that Y2J simply cannot do these days. Either way, you would think that having his eternal enemy, Kevin Owens, holding the WWE M-Theory title should be a sign of Zayn getting some time in the title picture. Prediction: Sami Zayn

Robin Reid: Zayn is a great babyface, while Jericho is a great heel. The build here has been logical and the two guys having beef with each other makes sense. Zayn feuding with Jericho keeps him tangentially related to Kevin Owens and the title picture. These are all good things. Jericho’s condition these days puts a ceiling on the match, but if they’re not overambitious here and rely more on the natural emotional response then this could be good. Zayn should win here to set up an Owens match, but if they’re not ready for that yet then I could see Jericho sneaking a win via chicanery to prolong this feud and keep Zayn away from the title that bit longer. Just to be different, I’ll go with the latter. Prediction: Chris Jericho

Kelly Harrass: Everything that Jericho touches turns to gold as of late. He’s doing some of the best character work of his career right now and on Sunday he’ll be in the ring with one of the best workers in the company. I just hyped myself up for this match. The build has been solid enough, but I’d rather that Sami wouldn’t run down the ramp and attack people constantly. I feel like the ska man should be a little more laid back, but that’s just me. Unless they’re setting up Jericho for a feud with Owens, which is the last thing I want to see, I don’t think that he has a chance of winning. Prediction: Sami Zayn

WWE US Title Match
Rusev © vs. Roman Reigns

Sean Flynn: I’m exhausted with Roman Reigns. Whether he’s winning or losing, overcoming odds or being overwhelmed by them, it all just feels so pointless. For someone who is supposed to be a loner and doing what he wants, when he wants, Reigns feels like he has no agency whatsoever. Everything he does is driven by someone else’s actions, and he just reacts and smirks and howls at the moon. Rusev is all about agency. He lives every minute to its Rusevian fullest. The best possible outcome for this match is a 3 minute squash with Rusev murdering Reigns. But it won’t be. Reigns might win, and then his next action will be determined by what Rusev, or Foley, or HHH, or a McMahon, or Owens, or anyone else decides to visit upon him. Match will be good because both men are very good professional wrestlers in the style of the day. Prediction: Roman Reigns

Robin Reid: The build for this has been trash, we all know that. The big plan to get us to cheer Reigns has been for him to bully some newlyweds. Surprise surprise, it hasn’t worked to the extent that most audiences have been cheering ‘evil foreigner’ Rusev. However, I’m really looking forward to this match because these are two great in ring wrestlers whose styles should really mesh perfectly. I was excited for this match at SummerSlam when it almost happened but didn’t, and I’m still excited for it now in spite of the build. Really not sure who wins here though. Reigns wins a lot, but do they want him with the secondary belt? But for him not to win it he almost has to lose decisively otherwise it makes not real sense for Reigns to move on. That I don’t expect, so I’m semi-reluctantly plumping for Reigns here. Prediction: Roman Reigns

Kelly Harrass: I’m really fighting back against my urge to just copy and paste what I wrote for the SummerSlam preview of this match. The build for this has been horrible and particularly damaging for Rusev. These twins just can’t get along and their clashes just aren’t doing anything to help either of them. Like I said last month, maybe Roman will follow in the footsteps of Cena and go on to be a super worker after he beats Rusev to win the US Title. No matter what, this match will have to be better than the brawl that we got in their last “match.” It has to be, right? Oh god, what if it’s worse? Lana will get involved some way and that could easily ramp up the level of stupid. Please let this be a no cake match. Prediction: Roman Reigns

WWE Universal Title Match
Kevin Owens (c) vs. Seth Rollins

Sean Flynn: A few months back I marveled at WWE being able to make the first ever Shield triple threat match into something that didn’t feel special at all. They’ve done it again, with the first Owens vs. Rollins main event serving as a proxy fight between HHH and Stephanie, with Mick Foley filling in for Kane as the powerless guy in the middle. A reminder that the Raw title is just a way of noting who the McMahons like best. Match should be extremely good, but however it ends we’re most likely going to hate it. Prediction: Kevin Owens

Robin Reid: This is another match I should be FAR more excited for than I am. Rollins is finally full on face, an alignment that fits his style like a glove, and Big Kev’ is in the main event! The match will probably be great too, aside from a potential rubbish authority driven finish. In some ways it’s impressive how bad the build has had to be for me not to be all about this match, but here we are. The ‘New Era’ has proved to be exactly the same authority figure driven drivel as the era preceding it, only now with the added wrinkle of a husband and wife having zero means of communication with each other when the cameras aren’t rolling. Urgh. Owens to retain. Prediction: Kevin Owens

Kelly Harrass: Did they completely blow the build up for this match or what? I should be so pumped up for this and I just can’t bring myself to be excited. I think the match will be good and I expect both men to push themselves to have an awesome main event, but from a storytelling perspective, this has been a failure. Owens hasn’t come off well as champion and has essentially regressed to being just another WWE bad guy. It’s a shame because he was the most compelling character in the company at one point. Right now Rollins is in flux. He’s headed towards becoming a full blown face, but he’s been a heel for so long that it’s a hard transition. I have a strong feeling that in order to help that along, they’re going to have Triple H interfere yet again to help Owens. As much as I want to enjoy this match, I really worry that the ending will mar it for me. It will be an awesome main event until it makes us all mad. Prediction: Kevin Owens