WWE – Clash Of Champions 2020 (Cert 15)
1 Disc DVD (Distributor: Fremantle Media) Running Time: 177 minutes approx.
COVID – or something else we’re not supposed to know about – played havoc with this year’s iteration of the show – subtitled Gold Rush – in which every WWE championship is contested. One match was changed whilst another was dropped completely due to the wrestlers involved not being “medically cleared” to compete.
There was originally a Women’s Tag Title match scheduled but both champions Nia Jax and Shayna Baszler weren’t cleared, so the math took place on RAW two weeks later. Meanwhile, Bayley was to face Nikki Cross for the SD Women’s Title (again) but she too was struck off, possibly because of a COVID break out in NXT where her husband Killian Dain currently works.
The rest of the card went as planned that not all of it was as inspired as it could be, but then again that could be said of most WWE PPVs these days. Rematches galore and the same old faces featured is partly to blame for the apathy of the fanbase, though having said that, the big return of Roman Reigns at Summerslam and his subsequent heel turn has actually added some extra spice to the SD side of things.
Clash Of The Champions took place on September 27th 2020 at the WWE Thunderdome located inside the Amway Centre in Orlando, Florida in front of virtual crowd seen via a bank of video screens, with added piped in crowd noises to create the impression of a hot crowd. Commentary is provided by Michael Cole and Corey Graves for SD and Tom Phillips, Byron Saxton and Samoa Joe for RAW.
As ever, while my match review won’t contain any results or major spoilers, expect plenty of opinion and backstory to the matches:
WWE IC Title Triple Threat Ladder Match – Jeff Hardy (c) vs. Sami Zayn (c) vs. AJ Styles
Yes, that’s right – there are TWO IC champions. How? Well, Sami Zayn was champ when he went into lockdown after Wrestlemania and when it was evident he wouldn’t be returning any time soon, he was stripped of the title. A tournament was held which was won by AJ Styles (over Daniel Bryan in a cracking match on SD) but just a few weeks later, Jeff Hardy defeated Styles to win the strap, just as Sami Zayn returned, claiming to still rightfully being the champ.
So, it was to be settled in this ladder match and boy, was this insane or what? It’s tough to come up with fresh moves and spots in ladder matches that aren’t too dangerous so a level of repetition is inevitable. But in this instance, agent Jamie Noble came up with a couple of spots involving handcuffs that weren’t dangerous but still had us wincing, yet were unquestionably innovative. Maybe a little long at almost half an hour but a wild crazy way to kick off the show.
There is some more silliness with R-Truth and the 24/7 title that is scattered throughout the show, just for the sake of full disclosure, but if don’t wish to waste any brain cells on this nonsense then the skip button is your friend.
WWE RAW Women’s Title Match – Asuka (c) vs. Zelina Vega
I know what you’re thinking – Zelina Vega? The miniscule mouthpiece for Andrade and Garza? With communications breaking down within that little group, it seems the idea is to move Vega into a more active role since she was originally a wrestler. After beating Mickie James on RAW, Vega won the right to face Asuka – or should I say, be destroyed by Asuka.
Originally set for the pre-show until the aforementioned changes, it swapped places with the SD tag title match due to be on the main card instead. Amazingly, this wasn’t over in 30-seconds as many thought it would be but Vega didn’t exactly stand much of change to begin with and everyone knew that. Okay for what it was, but until Vega is a proven commodity, we’re stuck with throwaway matches like this.
WWE US Title Match – Bobby Lashley (c) vs. Apollo Crews
Talking of being stuck with something, this particular feud has been running longer than Coronation Street – or at least feels like it. Lashley bested Crews at Payback for the belt and this is the rematch nobody asked for but we’ve got anyway. Nothing we’ve not seen before and at least it was kept short-ish. Hopefully, were done with this one now.
WWE RAW Tag Title Match – The Street Profits (c) vs. Angle Garza & Andrade
Another match we’ve seen on endless loop since way back before Wrestlemania, this one defies logic. The challengers have not only lost every single match against the champs, but have also split up, reunited, and teased a split again, this time with Vega walking out on them. We know Vince hates tag team wrestling but having these two teams go at it for the millionth time is making us hate it too!
(Un)fortunately, this was cut short when Garza suffered an injury at ringside and they called an audible to go home, making for an awkward scenario as Andrade clearly kicked out as the ref counted three. Probably the only noteworthy moment of this stale affair.
WWE SD Women’s Title Match – Bayley (c) vs. ???
With no Nikki Cross to face, Bayley came out alone, having recently turned on Sasha Banks following their tag title loss, and issued an open challenge. As much as I love the person who responded, this was a waste of their talent since the match ended quickly by DQ with Sasha returning to exact her revenge. I get they were painted into a corner, but there are other women on the SD roster who could have been used here given the cheap finish.
WWE Title Ambulance Match – Drew McIntyre (c) vs. Randy Orton
Since Randy Orton went on a punting spree on RAW in frustration at failing to beat Drew at Summerslam, sending McIntyre, as well as Ric Flair, Big Show, Shawn Michaels, and Christian to hospital, it was decided this would be the gimmick for this rematch. There haven’t been many ambulance matches in WWE and probably for good reason since it is simply a No Holds Barred match and the winner shuts the other inside the vehicle.
Usual match turned brawl with the ambulance being used as a weapon as well as being on the receiving end of some damage for some big spots, though the real story is the cameos from some familiar faces to give Drew a helping hand in the name of story continuity. Didn’t need to be 21 minutes long but time always stands still when Orton is around.
Universal Title Match – Roman Reigns (c) vs. Jey Uso
Finally, we come to the one match with some intrigue to it. Jey Uso might be known more as tag wrestler with twin brother Jimmy but since he is out with an injury, it was decided Jey should have a singles run, and what better way to start this off than with a title shot against his cousin Roman Reigns.
Jey returned to SD from the wilderness and won a four-way match after replacing Big E, who was taken out by Sheamus, so of course he would win. However, with Roman now with Paul Heyman that makes him a heel though he hasn’t acted like one – until now. The build up saw Roman and Jey acting pally but behind Jey’s back, Roman would scowl and feel threatened by his cousin daring to challenge him.
The story of the match is that Roman is unwillingly beating down Jey as he loves his cousin but he is also chasing the title which Reigns wants to protect. Jey is no match for Roman but won’t quit so Roman tells Jey to acknowledge him as the champ and he’ll go easy on him. But Jey is a fighter and won’t kowtow so easily, making Reigns angrier.
Work wise, this is solid enough but with Reigns’ new mean streak finally suiting his dark, Samoan mien, and Jey being the naive good guy, the story telling carries the dramatic intensity and audience interest. A different main event match for sure and long overdue top performance from Roman.
WWE can’t always be blamed for wrestlers falling ill at the best of times, but with their COVID testing open to question by some (much like their steroid testing in the past) they reap what they sow when wrestler’s can’t compete. It is unfortunate this card needed a bit of a re-jiggle, but at least it wasn’t the main matches, as has happened before (Great American Bash 2006 comes to mind).
Having said that, this card wasn’t particularly compelling to begin with, comprised of rematches that had been done to death or featuring challengers who had not been given a chance to look even remotely like a threat to the title holders. This is basic wrestling booking yet for some reason, Vince went in the opposite direction and booked all the challengers, with the exception of Orton (natch) to look like chumps, thus nobody would be invested in their match.
Really, as ironic as it is to say this, only the new Roman Reigns brought something fresh to the table after year of him being booed as babyface and not doing anything outside of his tired shtick as decreed by Vince. Perhaps not the same paradigm shift in terms of magnitude, this is loosely similar to Hulk Hogan’s heel turn and formation of the nWo in 1996, which revitalised his career as he was forced change his style and personality. How long it lasts is down to Vince and his booking.
In summary, pretty much another WWE PPV only this time with a genuinely intriguing conclusion to the main event.
Best Match – IC Title Ladder Match
Rating – ** ½
Man In Black