The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not reflect the opinions of WrestlingInc or its staff
•The popularity of the absurd in wrestling has been an interesting development over the last couple years. In line with the hipster demographic that makes up a sizeable chunk of the wrestling audience, the rise of gimmicks that specialize in taking a sincere approach to comedic acts has become one of the biggest trends in wrestling. Promotions like DDT in Japan and CHIKARA have long been doing this, but it has really gotten over on another level this year, mainly with The New Day and Matt Hardy acts taking off. The fact that a cereal and a gardener are more over to wrestling fans than 90 percent of wrestlers is definitely indicative a unique time in wrestling history.
•I know this had been said a lot and at this point I should be over it; but the fact that Roman Reigns wears a freakin' bullet proof vest is so f--king stupid it makes my head spin. There is no explanation for it; he just wears it because they think it looks cool. He didn't wear it in NXT so it isn't like he has some embarrassing tattoo or scar they are trying to hide. If he was using it as a heel weapon like D'lo Brown used to do then it would make sense, but nope, he just wears it as a reminder that Reigns was once a member of The Shield, a beloved group. Any time Reigns is getting beaten down, or someone is trying to hit him with a steel chair it makes no sense to Reigns sell for his opponent like a normal wrestler would, because he is wearing protective armor designed to stop bullets from penetrating flesh.
•I've always thought it would be a cool project for WWE to produce a massive collection featuring an all-time talent. I used to think something like a 10-disc DVD set that had every important match, title challenges or PPV main events on it for a guy like The Undertaker would be tremendous. Now with the WWE Network that idea is way more feasible. How about they produce a new show called "Superstar Collections" or something and each week they produce a three-hour collection of matches from someone's career, until ten episodes are complete accurately summarizing their careers, from the beginning to the present day? They have plenty of video content and wrestlers (Flair, Hogan, 'Taker, Michaels, Hart, Triple H, Sting, Cena, Austin, The Rock, etc.) to make it work and have multiple seasons.
•I don't know how I feel about the continued use of slapping in the Women's division. It happens all of the time and it seems like instead of doing traditional beat-down angles with the women WWE is apt to have someone smack the other woman with an open palm and walk away. I'm not against them designing storylines with angles that are unique to women, and outside of anything involving Stephanie McMahon the men are not going to be slapping each other, but it seems kind of like something that remains from the bygone era of crappy women's wrestling. The idea of women slapping each other (along with hair pulling and scratching) comes from the stereotype that women don't know how to fight properly; but that shouldn't be the message they are trying to send with performers like Charlotte, Bayley and Sasha Banks. Why can't they do normal beatdowns like the men and cut the slapping out?
•For any South Parks fans out there, I'm sure you are familiar with Member Berries. For those of you who are not familiar, Member Berries are talking berries that you eat to make you feel nostalgic about things from the past and the berries say things like "Remember Star Wars?" and "Remember Chewbacca?" This is a parody of entertainment today in that it seems like movies and television are out of original ideas and rely on memorable things from decades past to sell tickets. WWE is of course no different—they would fit right in with Member Berries saying things like "Member Ric Flair?" or "Remember the Attitude Era?" WWE likes to constantly remind everyone how great their (and other companies') pasts were, but the problem is they keep comparing it to the product today, which is largely seen as inferior to the past. Watching a bunch of clips of old Ric Flair promos and then watching scripted promo after scripted promo on RAW reminds us just how bad things have become now.
Clash of Champions Review
Kevin Owens vs Seth Rollins: ***3/4
Standard match from these two, probably could have been a bit better considering the talent in the ring. It will be interesting to see how these two have a Hell in a Cell match. I can't see them taking a ton of big risks because RAW is in such a bind right now when it comes to roster depth. They never really can afford an injury to a top guy, but now they REALLY can't afford an injury to either Owens or Rollins, and Rollins already was hurt in this match from taking the Dean Malenko-gutbuster.
The ending to the match (and the subsequent post-match scene where Stephanie met Triple H in the limo) indicates what everyone (except Mick Foley, who I hope is being very well compensated for looking like an idiot on TV each week and being constantly run-down by Stephanie) already knows, Triple H and Stephanie are in cahoots with each other and are going to screw Seth Rollins over and over again until he eventually wrestles Triple H. The current story that Stephanie is telling everyone is that she "doesn't know why Hunter chose Kevin Owens and turned on Seth." Now, in storyline and in real life, Triple H and Stephanie are married, so you would think during one of their many interactions with each other Stephanie would ask Triple H why he did this--but apparently they don't talk that much. How could anyone believe that, even in the suspension of disbelief that takes place when you watch professional wrestling? It's such a faulty storyline, it appears that not five minutes' worth of thought was put into the story before they enacted it on TV. I actually hope that is the case, because then that would just mean they were shortsighted and not just really, really stupid.
Roman Reigns vs Rusev: **3/4
I thought this match was just there, although I will say the crowd was really into it which is a testament to how polarizing Reigns. Rusev and Kevin Owens are the two biggest heels in the company and they get cheered when they work with Reigns, so what do you think that tells you? They gave Reigns the John Cena playbook for this match, doing all the typical super-Cena spots and overpowering Rusev at key moments to pick up the victory. The match was disappointing and I don't think these two quite click in the ring for whatever reason; their match on RAW the following night was much worse, as it went way too long, involved too many rest holds and ended in a double count-out.
Charlotte vs Bayley vs Sasha Banks: ***
This match was indicative of the show overall; good but not great. As interesting as the trio of women are, they can only have them interact with each other so much before it becomes stale. They desperately need Paige to come back to increase the depth in the division and give them another talent that is both somewhat popular and capable of having good matches as either a heel or a babyface. The match was solid but probably didn't live up to its potential and I thought the finish was kind of weak.
Sheamus vs Cesaro: ****
The best match on the show and was on its way to an even higher rating before the lame non-finish. The Best of Seven series had grown tiresome, especially because once Sheamus went up 3-0 it was obvious Cesaro was going to win the next three matches and force the seventh and decisive match. That being said, they have worked really well together and provided what you expect, hard-hitting and physical wrestling from the days of yore. The subsequent pairing of the two as a tag team is questionable, but oddball groupings have worked before so I'm not going to rule it out yet.
TJ Perkins vs Brian Kendrick: ***1/4
Good match but like the main event and the Women's match, probably could have been a bit better. The crowd was quiet during the start of the match but eventually got into it because the high-spots were well-done, including the excellent diving hurricanrana by Perkins that dropped Kendrick over the top rope. Kendrick turning heel at the end of the match was the right move because for the division to be successful they need to have different personalities; all of the guys cannot seem the same. Kendrick has the most chops when it comes to character development, so I think it would be wise to push him as the star of the division at least for a little while before the other wrestlers get fleshed out.
The New Day vs Karl Anderson and Luke Gallows: **1/2
At the time I thought the match was actually well-constructed. I figured Anderson and Gallows wouldn't lose the match unless WWE wanted to completely bury them; but by having them dominate the match only to lose because Xavier Woods cheated, it set up the next match on RAW while also letting The New Day hit the 400 day mark in their tag title reign. I was convinced The New Day were going to lose on RAW, but alas they beat Anderson and Gallows clean in the middle of the ring, killing them off once and for all. With WWE now going clearly in the direction of Sheamus and Cesaro one has to ask the question; what was the point of bringing them in from Japan in the first place?
Chris Jericho vs Sami Zayn: **1/2
I love Chris Jericho, but shouldn't he really be around to put over Sami Zayn instead of beating him clean? Zayn defeated Kevin Owens on PPV and ever since then it has been all downhill for the guy, which is a shame because few in the world are as talented as him. Both he and Neville seem to be on the outside looking in right now; neither of them could get on RAW on Monday despite the fact the show is 180 minutes long and they have a huge depth issue.
Must Watch Matches:
Chris Hero and JT Dunn vs The Young Bucks: **** - PWG Thirteen
Kyle O'Reilly vs Zack Sabre Jr.: ****1/4 – PWG Thirteen