After Smackdown Live delivered the first shot with WWE Backlash two weeks ago, it’s now time for Raw to respond with WWE Clash of Champions this Sunday (Monday 12pm NZT). It’ll be a tough ask for Raw to produce a high quality show, considering the strong first impression Smackdown made, making the most out of two and a half hours and the focus being on the in-ring action.
While Smackdown dawned a new era at Backlash, Clash of Champions will see all of Raw’s titleholders try and maintain their grasp atop of their respective divisions. Raw has struggled in the weekly ratings as of late, but there is promise with the introduction of the Crusierweight Division last week and the championship match between T.J. Perkins and Brian Kendrick is a dark horse to steal the show. Will The Kevin Owens Show resume after Sunday night? Can The New Day continue their record-breaking WWE Raw Tag Team Championship reign? Who will walk out as the Raw Women’s Champion in a triple threat battle between three out of the four Horsewomen? WWE writer Sam Verlinden has joined me in making predictions for the pay-per-view. Here’s our thoughts and predictions below:
EF: Elijah Fa’afiu
SV: Sam Verlinden
PRE-SHOW: Alicia Fox vs Nia Jax
EF: Nia Jax wins in a squash. Not much else to add here.
PREDICTION: NIA JAX
SV: Yeah same, will be a squash
PREDICTION: NIA JAX
1. T.J. Perkins (c) vs Brian Kendrick for the WWE Crusierweight Championship
EF: This match should be opening Clash of Champions. It’s usually a staple for crusierweights to begin the show with their high-flying maneuvers and the match should be exciting for fans still easing off the buzz of the Crusierweight Classic. The Fatal 4 Way #1 Contender’s Match on Raw was a solid introduction for WWE crowds getting their first taste of this style of wrestling, although it may have been an error on Raw’s part to introduce them in the third hour. Another misstep for Raw was the fact that the Crusierweight Champion T.J Perkins was not featured on Monday night, which could prevent Perkins from trying to get over with WWE fans who have never seen him in the ring before. Because of this, it would be too soon for Perkins to lose the title, as fans are still trying to warm up to the guy. I loved ‘The’ Brian Kendrick’s gimmick back in 2008, which was a really cool and refreshing character at the time. But in 2016, I only see Kendrick’s role as a mentor and simply putting young talent over. I have Perkins retaining the title in a possible match of the night contender.
PREDICTION: T.J. PERKINS
SV: Wrestling wins on the day here. The Cruiserweights know how to put on a match, hopefully the fans can get behind this one because there’s been limited opportunity to showcase the personas of these talents… although it is fairly obvious that Kendrick has assumed the role of a heel. I’m not one for short title runs so I feel Perkins will retain here.
PREDICTION: T.J PERKINS
2. Cesaro v Sheamus in the final match of the Best of 7 series – score tied 3-3
EF: With the winner of this series set to receive a WWE United States Championship opportunity, this prediction you’d think would go hand-in-hand with the US Championship match prediction. Meaning that if Cesaro wins, then he would probably face Rusev, but if Sheamus wins, then you would believe Roman Reigns would win the United States title later in the night (the heel vs face mentality). I’m going with the former here as I’m still a firm believer that Rusev should hold the title for longer (or at least until Kurt Angle returns). I’ve been impressed with the work of both men in this series, with a different conclusion to each match and the story of Cesaro having to come back from 3-0 down to tie the series, even though it was predictable.
SV: Yeah I agree.
3. Rusev (c) w/ Lana vs Roman Reigns for the WWE United States Championship
EF: Because I picked Cesaro in my last prediction, it would make sense to have Rusev win here, although I would be intrigued by a Cesaro/Reigns match-up. Reigns winning would make the title a lot more relevant, but why not let Rusev get a huge victory over Reigns to make his reign look strong and continue his run as one of the biggest true heels on Raw. I would have Lana interfere but the booking is too similar to how The Miz has been winning his title matches over on Smackdown. The Bulgarian Brute would gain a lot more respect and prominence if he beats Reigns without interference, but I doubt this happens.
SV: Like the lovely smark I am, I do wish that Rusev would retain here- it would work to further elevate this guy who has all the makings of a main eventing monster heel. But…. Reigns will likely take this one, he seems to have fallen hard since his suspension and this could be a humbling opportunity for Reigns to get the fans behind him. I doubt this happens but he should win this one.
PREDICTION: ROMAN REIGNS
4. Sami Zayn vs Chris Jericho
EF: For some reason, this was the hardest match for me to pick. I think a long rivalry is on the cards for these two and usually it would mean the heel would win the first match-up. But I get the feeling that down the line Zayn’s gonna get a title shot at the Universal Championship – maybe at Survivor Series, where the PPV is held in Toronto (spoiler for my main event prediction?) Due to this, Zayn needs to look strong against Jericho and winning this match, along with a possible rematch at Hell in a Cell would cement his place as a contender to the Universal Title.
PREDICTION: SAMI ZAYN
SV: Y2J is fantastic- however he has absolutely no need for any momentum. On the other hand, Sami Zayn does. His matches with Owens have all been fantastic, but it all seems to have fallen a bit flat for the happy chappy recently, therefore I see him going over here.
PREDICTION: SAMI ZAYN
5. Charlotte (c) vs Sasha Banks vs Bayley in a Triple Threat Match for the WWE Raw Women’s Championship
EF: There’s a lot that can be done with the Raw Women’s Division, with Nia Jax slowly moving up the roster and Paige and Emma possibly returning with the red brand. It’s obvious that down the line Charlotte is going to face off with her protege Dana Brooke, but the question is whether the title should be involved or if the story is relevant enough on its own. Another concern is whether fans will get behind Dana’s eventual face turn. I think Charlotte needs to test her protege against someone like Nia Jax to prove herself, which should help Dana get more of a reaction from fans. I’ve got Charlotte retaining her title, as it would be better for Banks to win in a one-on-one match-up, possibly at Hell in a Cell or Survivor Series, while Bayley’s moment will come around Wrestlemania season next year.
SV: I can’t see Bayley winning this match. Which leaves Banks and Charlotte. The title will inevitably find its way back to Banks at some point, but not just yet. Charlotte deserves a credible run in the meanwhile i.e more than 3 weeks.
6. The New Day (c) vs Luke Gallows & Karl Anderson for the WWE Raw Tag Team Championships
EF: Oh WWE, what have you done with Gallows & Anderson? From being badasses from The Bullet Club to comedic doctors and retirement home workers. The only way for Gallows & Anderson to regain their momentum, as well as heat, is for them to end The New Day’s record-breaking championship reign. The New Day do not need the titles to get over anymore and it would provide fresh new rivalries for the tag titles e.g. Gallows & Anderson vs Enzo & Cass at Hell in a Cell anyone?
PREDICTION: GALLOWS & ANDERSON
SV: To put it simply, The Club have yet to solidify themselves as a true threat to the New Day’s lengthy run. I can’t see them genuinely holding the straps until they prove themselves as monsters (aka getting over). They will eventually hold the titles but need true heel heat- this could be achieved by furthering their promising ‘retirement’ gimmick.
PREDICTION: THE NEW DAY
7. Kevin Owens (c) vs Seth Rollins for the WWE Universal Championship
EF: This match should be the best one of the night, but I think Triple H will interfere once again, adding to the storyline between HHH/Rollins and setting up for their match which should occur at Wrestlemania 33. The problem with that is it makes KO look like a classic chicken heel champion, which shouldn’t be the case. This current rivalry between Owens and Rollins however, should culminate in a Hell in a Cell match at the next Raw PPV, with Owens continuing his reign. Ideally, it should lead to an Owens vs Zayn showdown at Survivor Series in Canada. What an atmosphere that would be! If you haven’t figured it out from my predictions, I have every heel (besides T.J. Perkins) walking out of Clash of Champions with a title.
PREDICTION: KEVIN OWENS
SV: Kevin Owens and Seth Rollins are delightful talents, they tick all the boxes to be mainstays in the WWE’s main event box for years to come. Owens needs to retain here- WWE needs to cement this incredibly popular guy as the definitive champ. Rollins meanwhile needs to be cemented as everyone’s favourite anti-hero face, desperately clawing his way to another title reign. Losing this match via a screwy finish could give Seth an added element of aggression, taking him away from the whiny, manipulative heel we all know and molding him into a true savage who the fans can truly back. Potentially a Triple H cameo also, but I feel this should be saved for Survivor Series.
PREDICTION: KEVIN OWENS