By Chuck Carroll
Two weeks ago it was SmackDown Live’s turn, and now the RAW roster will get its first crack at a solo pay-per-view event at Sunday’s WWE Clash of the Champions.
Like SmackDown’s Backlash PPV, WWE will face stiff competition for viewers from the NFL, as it will through January. But unlike two weeks ago there will be no distractions from the UFC or CM Punk. No, their biggest concern isn’t until the following night on RAW. That’s when a WWE Hall of Famer’s clash outside of the ring should severely destroy them in the ratings. That evening Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton go head-to-head in a heavyweight debate with a four-year stay in the White House on the line. If that’s not must-see TV, I don’t know what is.
To attract as many viewers as possible, WWE is launching a preemptive strike with a tasty card on the eve of the debate. Indeed, Vince McMahon is trying cook up enough interest to stay above three million viewers.
His recipe calls for a fierce three-way battle for the RAW Women’s Championship mixed in with some Booty O’s cereal. Add a dash of lean cuisine with a cruiserweight title match, a splash of rock and roll, and top it all off with Canada’s finest. Put all the ingredients in the ring, and let them wrestle for about four hours. And voilà, You have Clash of the Champions!
The creative geniuses at WWE have been throwing a ton of curveballs lately. So to help pick the matches, I enlisted the help of a couple of pro wrestling insiders.
WWE Universal Championship
Kevin Owens (c) vs. Seth Rollins
Scott Fishman: WWE is still trying to establish Kevin Owens as the top dog, so don’t expect to see the Universal title change hands. I can see Triple H getting involved and costing Rollins the match. This will eventually lead to a match between the two. PICK: KEVIN OWENS
Aaron Oster: Kevin Owens is going to win this. It would be completely illogical for Seth to win. The question is: how does he win? I’d like to see a perfectly clean win here. Some are questioning how Owens won the title, and then he lost to Reigns, so a clean win would be a real boost for him. Expect Triple H to be involved though. PICK: KEVIN OWENS
Chuck Carroll: There is no way this one ends cleanly. I also don’t see the title changing hands. They need to add a little more depth to this storyline. So, I wouldn’t be surprised if Triple H appears and costs Seth Rollins the title again. PICK: KEVIN OWENS
United States Championship
Rusev (c) vs. Roman Reigns
Fishman: By some sort of chicanery, I see Rusev holding on to the United States championship. I think WWE isn’t done putting Roman Reigns in the main event and Universal title picture. Reigns defeating Kevin Owens on RAW proves this. PICK: RUSEV
Oster: Rusev as champion is great. He deserves a longer reign. But are they really going to have Reigns go over on Owens, just to lose to Rusev? It makes no sense. Thus, I feel Reigns is going to have at least a short run here. PICK: ROMAN REIGNS
Carroll: I think Reigns gets his due here. He’s paid the price for his failed wellness test, and it’s time to re-establish him as a champion. Plus, the fans will love it (wink, wink). It wasn’t long ago that John Cena legitimized the U.S. Championship, and I expect Reigns will do the same on Sunday. PICK: ROMAN REIGNS
RAW Women’s Championship
Charlotte (c) vs. Sasha Banks vs. Bayley
Fishman: Given the history between Charlotte, Sasha Banks and Bayley, the RAW women’s title match could have believably been the main event of this show. I see Charlotte retaining here since I don’t think WWE wants to play hot potato with the championship. Plus, the seeds can be planted for Banks vs. Bayley down the line. It’s much too soon for Bayley to win it. I would hope WWE delays that a bit as there is more money in the chase here. Plus, Bo$$ could take out her frustration from losing the match on Bayley at the end. PICK: CHARLOTTE
Oster: Charlotte won the title at SummerSlam solely because they thought Sasha would be out for a while. Now that Sasha is back, I expect them to give the title right back to her. While it would be an interesting wrinkle if Bayley and Sasha cost each other the match, it doesn’t fit WWE’s style. PICK: SASHA BANKS
Carroll: If I were a betting man, my money would be on Bayley. I can see WWE taking a page out of the Finn Balor playbook and giving her the title shortly after being called up from NXT. I think Charlotte’s protégé Dana Brook will cost her the belt — possibly intentionally. They will go on to have their own program. Meanwhile, WWE has already hinted at a Bayley – Sasha Banks feud, and it looks like it will be for the title. PICK: BAYLEY
RAW Tag Team Championship
The New Day (c) vs. Gallows and Anderson
Fishman: Luke Gallows and Karl Anderson have definitely had their ups and downs since their debut in WWE. It’s time for The Club to get a run with the RAW tag team championships. Plus, New Day’s long reign has run its course. I don’t think Gallows and Anderson can sustain another loss if WWE really wants to push these guys as a viable duo. PICK: GALLOWS AND ANDERSON
Oster: This is it for The Club. If they don’t win it here, I seriously worry that they fade into irrelevancy. Have the Club win, they can settle it one more time with The New Day before The New Day moves to bigger and better things. And then the Realest Guys in the Room enter the picture. PICK: GALLOWS AND ANDERSON
Carroll: It’s time for a change at the top of the tag team division, so look for Gallows and Anderson to come up golden. After more than a year as champions, the New Day will drop the titles, cleanly I suspect. Fingers crossed though that when the dust settles they won’t become an afterthought and can still sling a ton of cereal and unicorn thingies. Next up for Gallows and Anderson? A feud with Enzo and Cass. PICK: GALLOWS AND ANDERSON
Match Seven in Best of Seven Series
Cesaro vs. Sheamus
Fishman: I’m shocked the Best of Seven Series between Cesaro and Sheamus has gone to seven, says nobody. Kudos to these guys for stepping up to the challenge of wrestling so many times on television consecutively. I don’t see Cesaro losing here after coming back from such a large deficit, thus putting him a good position for either Rusev or even Kevin Owens. PICK: CESARO
Oster: I could almost see Sheamus winning this, just as a swerve. Here’s the problem: who would he face? Most of the champions are heels now, and even if Reigns walks out with the U.S. belt, they’re not doing Sheamus/Reigns again. The one possible swerve? The two end up going for the tag titles together. PICK: CESARO
Carroll: In a match for all the marbles, look for the Swiss Superman to stand tall. Why? Because he’s due. And the WWE Universe is firmly behind him at a time when WWE seems to be going out of their way to give fans what they want. Where the two go from here though is anybody’s guess. Perhaps Cesaro winds up in the U.S. Title picture? PICK: CESARO
WWE Cruiserweight Championship
T.J. Perkins (c) vs. Brian Kendrick
Fishman: I’m excited at the potential of the Cruiserweight championship if WWE takes elements of what made the Cruiserweight Classic special. It’s very cool to see Kendrick back on the fold regularly. However, I don’t see Perkins dropping the title right after winning a 32-man tournament. PICK: T.J. PERKINS
Oster: Kendrick was a fantastic choice to be the first challenger. Fans know him, so you don’t have a match between two people who most fans don’t really know. Now you can take your time building the characters of the other cruiserweights, as Perkins retains this one. PICK: T.J. PERKINS
Carroll: This one seems pretty clear cut to me. T.J. Perkins will be successful in his first title defense. Brian Kendrick’s return to the WWE has been nothing short of amazing, but at 37 years old, his role is to get the young guns over. Nothing would shock me more than a title change here. PICK: T.J. PERKINS
Sami Zayn vs. Chris Jericho
Fishman: Chris Jericho prides himself on working with the emerging WWE superstars, and Sami Zayn fits that description perfectly. Zayn could use a win here after kind of being in the background the past few months, including SummerSlam. PICK: SAMI ZAYN
Oster: Jericho is arguably the best thing they have going right now. And if you want to have Owens face Jericho at some point in the near future, a Jericho win would do a lot for that. As much as it pains me, Sami can take a loss here. PICK: CHRIS JERICHO
Carroll: Do you know what this match has? It. I’m really looking forward to this one. I suspect Sami Zayn goes over here. We could see sour grapes from Chris Jericho that his best friend, Kevin Owens, didn’t come to save the day. If that happens look for their feud to be short but entertaining. PICK: SAMI ZAYN
Alicia Fox vs. Nia Jax
Fishman: It’s pretty much a shoe-in for Nia Jax to defeat Alicia Fox. With that said, Foxy is a good veteran for Jax to work against. I’m also happy to see crazy Alicia back in the mix. JBL’s hat is happy it’s on SmackDown. PICK: NIA JAX
Oster: The question isn’t who wins this match. The question is who gets to be Nia Jax’s first real feud. Paige? Emma? We’ll have to see on that one. PICK: NIA JAX
Carroll: I don’t see newcomer Nia Jax losing in the kickoff match. For much the same reason as Brian Kendrick doing the job for T.J. Perkins, I see Alicia Fox being a veteran and putting Jax over. That’s not to say it’ll be a one-sided affair. But Jax needs the win because she’s only just now starting to connect with the audience. A victory over Foxy would go a long way to help. PICK: NIA JAX
Chuck Carroll is former pro wrestling announcer and referee turned sports media personality. He once appeared on Monday Night RAW when he presented Robert Griffin III with a WWE title belt in the Redskins locker room.
Follow him on Twitter @ChuckCarrollWLC.