Clash Of Champions 2020 Review
It wouldn’t be a WWE PPV if something didn’t go quite to plan. Hastily changed from the one night of the year where all champions must defend their titles – to the one night where every match is a championship match – Clash Of Champions was no different. Just as the rest of the world must take steps to stave off the spread of Covid-19, WWE was forced to cancel a couple of matches just hours before the first bell was due to ring. Andy Spoors breaks down the action in and out of the ring.
Sometimes you have to expect the unexpected. Sometimes you have to accept the inevitable. When you are part of the professional wrestling community, whether fan or employee, things rarely run from point A to point B. Case in point: when news broke that Shayna Baszler, Nia Jax and Nikki Cross had not been medically cleared for their respective matches few could have been too shocked.
Although unconfirmed, social media rumours swirled throughout the week of multiple talents within WWE testing positive for the virus. Whatever the reason, WWE used their kick-off show to officially announce the trio would not compete on the PPV.
Disappointing. But it would be the quality inside the ring that would leave fans desperate to know more.
Opening the night’s proceedings was the triple threat ladder match for the Intercontinental Championship. In our preview, we guessed the action could steal the show and to be fair it came pretty damn close. We have spoken at length on the importance of originality in ladder matches.
Things have come a long way since Shawn Michaels and Razor Ramon introduced the match stipulation to the WWE Universe at WrestleMania X. One of the individuals responsible for introducing an almost destruction derby feel to the match was involved again tonight.
Always willing to take a risk, Jeff Hardy again put his body through all sorts of trauma. If jumping on to the support stanchion of a ladder side first sounds bad enough then the speed of Hardy purposefully falling head and shoulders first onto a prone Sami Zayn some 15 feet below, was downright difficult to watch.
When the time comes for Hardy to hang up his boots and leave the ladders for painting the house, be prepared to witness the career of a human highlight reel come to an end. He can also do so, knowing the match he helped become a phenomenon is in good hands.
Being used as a pinball throughout most of the match, Zayn proved smarts can overcome strength or daring. Pulling out two pairs of handcuffs, Zayn used Hardy’s ear piercing to gruesome effect. Threading one end through Hardy’s ear lobe and the other to a ladder may have been wince inducing but then handcuffing himself as a dead weight to AJ Styles was genius.
Transferring the cuff on his wrist to a ladder rung at the most opportune time, Zayn claimed both of the belts hanging above the ring to become the Undisputed Intercontinental Champion. From his facials, to in-ring work, Zayn reminded everyone just what they have been missing during the majority of lockdown.
Some entertaining but forgettable matches saw Bobby Lashley, Asuka and the Street Profits defend their respective US, Raw Women’s and Raw Tag Team Championships. With Nikki Cross unable to compete, Bayley issued an open challenge for her Smackdown Women’s Championship that Asuka answered.
After getting herself deliberately disqualified, Bayley was attacked by a neck brace wearing Sasha Banks to further their prolonged rivalry. Although the pair have slowly built a storyline that stretches back to their time in NXT, it feels as though WWE may be pulling the trigger on their inevitable match a little too soon.
This is one of the longest running sagas the company has to offer and one that fans have been waiting to boil over for some months now. After her brutal beat down a couple of weeks ago on SmackDown, Banks has been selling her injury well. Call us old fashioned, but why not write Banks out until the Royal Rumble where her return would be a shock? Bayley’s heel persona can go from strength to strength and it allows the possibility of a WrestleMania match that means something next year.
Speaking of meaning something, the last two matches of the night saw Drew McIntyre defend his WWE Championship against Randy Orton in an ambulance match and Jey Uso challenge his real-life cousin, Roman Reigns, for the Universal Championship.
Going into the ambulance match, most fans would have been forgiven for thinking Orton would be the one to prevail. It would be the current champ, McIntyre, that would have his hand held high by the referee, however.
Throughout the summer, Orton has carved a path of destruction. Delving deep into his past persona of the ‘Legend Killer’, the Viper took Edge, Christian, Big Show, Ric Flair and Shawn Michaels out one by one with punts to the head. Here he was the recipient of some delicious revenge from most of the aforementioned list of legends.
Arguably it weakened McIntyre in the process of defending his belt, by having that much help. But the sight of McIntyre punting Orton in the head, as blood poured from cuts in his back, helped replenish any credibility he may have lost anyway.
So on to the match of the night. Reigns vs Uso. Champion vs challenger. Cousin vs cousin. To fully appreciate the emotional meaning behind the match, WWE delivered a classic pre-match promo delving into the family roots of the Anoa’i family.
Professional wrestling has been home to many family dynasties, from the McMahons to the Harts. But few have been quite as widespread as the Anoa’I family tree. High Chief Peter Maivia, Yokozuna, Rikishi, Umaga and of course Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson, all share their heritage with both Reigns and Uso.
It’s fair to say everyone knew Uso had little chance to upset the odds and go home as the new Universal Champion. But the newly found, vicious nature of Reigns ensured this would be a match that will live long in the memory.
It didn’t need countless near falls. It didn’t need gimmicks or dozens of superkicks and finishers. All it took, was two Superstars and slightly turned up microphones to tell a hell of a story. It is often said that wrestling fans appreciate the nuances in matches. Less is more.
It wasn’t just the little things like both men using moves that their ancestors have used or trading verbal barbs in the ring. It was also the supporting cast that enhanced the match throughout.
As Roman viciously and systematically beatdown his cousin to force him into acknowledging Reigns as the family’s tribal chief, the match became hard to watch – referee Charles Robinson cowering from a tongue lashing from the champion. Lead commentator Michael Cole barely uttered a sentence for the final six minutes of the match in shock/disgust.
And what of Paul Heyman? Newly aligned with Reigns, the former advocate of a Superstar responsible for some of the most legitimate beat downs in the company’s history in Brock Lesnar, looked shellshocked and sold the situation beautifully.
There are times throughout WWE history where fans can feel the emotion emanate from the ring. This should easily stand side by side with most of them. If anyone was unsure before Clash Of Champions, there can be no doubt left. Reigns is a god damn Superstar. It may have been an unexpected year, but Reigns ruling WWE for the foreseeable future? That is inevitable.