WWE Clash of Champions 2016 Review: Top Highlights and Low Points
Just as Backlash was the first opportunity for SmackDown to show what its special events can be going forward, Clash of Champions 2016 was Raw's chance to prove the red brand's value for the future.
At face value, the card had quite a bit going for it: every title on the line, the conclusion of the Best of Seven Series, intrigue about Triple H and more.
However, even the best pay-per-views have flaws, which meant there was bound to be both positives and negatives on the show.
Which matches didn't quite live up to the hype? What segments far exceeded their potential? Were there more things to praise, or did the pay-per-view end up a bigger disappointment than anticipated?
It's time to look back on the results of WWE Clash of Champions 2016 and review the highlights and low points that stood out on the show, presented in order of appearance.
Highlight: Raw Tag Team Championship Match
With any event, having an entertaining opening match could help dictate the pace of the entire show to follow. Thankfully, the Raw Tag Team Championship was the first title set to be defended and all five men delivered.
Naturally, things kicked off with a promo by The New Day, which is always welcome—a few laughs to lighten the mood and put some smiles on the viewers' faces is never a bad thing.
On the opposite end of the spectrum, it was great to see Luke Gallows and Karl Anderson go back to what got them here by immediately coming out of the gate with a vengeance.
Recently, the two Club members failed miserably trying their hands at doing the same type of humor The New Day pulls off with ease. It wasn't a good fit for their characters in the slightest bit, so it was nice to see them go back to being hard-hitting bullies.
That intensity carried through the entire match all the way to the finish, which saw Xavier Woods interfere and blast Anderson with Francesca II, sealing the victory for the champions to retain.
The crowd was into this, both teams came out looking strong, the titles remain with the more entertaining team and it left things open for future stories to be told. All in all, that's a great way to start off a pay-per-view.
Highlight: Cruiserweight Championship Match
If you've seen the Cruiserweight Classic, it should be no surprise that a highlight of this event—and likely every show going forward—was the Cruiserweight Championship match.
To start things off, T.J. Perkins has new theme music which sounds like it came straight out of a 1990s Mega Man video game, which always had amazing tunes.
It was also a nice touch for the ropes to be changed to purple, as it keeps a distinction between this division and everything else.
Something you'll frequently see on these lists as positive reasoning is when both competitors come out of a match looking good despite one of them having to lose, as mentioned before with the Raw Tag Team Championship bout.
The same applied here with Brian Kendrick giving Perkins a major fight. He even solidified his heel status by headbutting the champion after the match just to give himself a little more zing after he was unable to dethrone Perkins, who undoubtedly turned some heads with his performance as well.
This division has been amazing, and if this match is any indication, things should continue to be great going forward on the main roster.
Highlight: Best of Seven Series Match
This is probably going to be a controversial choice to designate this as a highlight instead of a low point considering the end of the match, but let's step back and examine all of the elements before rushing to judgment.
Cesaro and Sheamus have locked up so many times over the past few months that the matches have blended together and become repetitive. However, they managed to step up their games here and put on the best performance they've had so far.
Some of the matches in this series have been stinkers, yet this was great—so good, in fact, that despite the end result being a draw, it didn't sour the mood.
Normally in these kind of scenarios, the fans rightfully boo and become annoyed with the event. Everything to follow suffers after a disappointing "no-contest" ruling instead of a decisive finale to these matches.
Instead, the audience was chanting "let them fight" and wanted more. Think about that—there have been seven matches and fans are clamoring for an eighth.
Cesaro's injuries were played up perfectly to position him as the underdog even though they were tied at 3-3, which was showcased when they kicked out of their respective finishers.
The story being told here is how evenly matched they are, which means it's a great idea, in theory, to say even a seven-match lineup can't distinguish which one comes out on top.
Eventually, WWE will have to make a decision on where to go and how to conclude this, which most likely will be revealed on the next episode of Monday Night Raw.
Whatever decision is made, Sheamus and Cesaro will definitely go at it again, probably at Hell in a Cell. When that happens, there will be definitive closure, and the win will have meant even more since it was extended.
Fans that were disappointed this match didn't end the series have every right to constitute it as a low point, but for the arguments above, it might be worth being optimistic that this will have been the better plan in retrospect.
Highlight: Sami Zayn vs. Chris Jericho
What is there to criticize about this match?
The story for why the two were fighting was a textbook example of the phrase "simple but effective." Kevin Owens was Sami Zayn's friend, now he's Chris Jericho's friend, so there would naturally be some friction between the two.
Keeping up with the concept of simplicity being the best route, the match itself wasn't needlessly complicated or overbooked in any way.
Both Zayn and Jericho have track records that prove they are two of the best in-ring workers in the company, so they were allowed to just go out there and put on a great show.
You might have preferred Zayn winning over Jericho, but to defend that decision, Y2J has more experience. Catching a younger star with a quick finisher just plays up the veteran's advantage and doesn't belittle Zayn in the slightest bit.
If you watch professional wrestling for the soap opera as well as the athleticism, this is a great marriage of the two without getting too crazy on the dramatic side.
Highlight: Raw Women's Championship Triple Threat Match
On a personal level, Charlotte retaining the Raw Women's Championship is a low point for me, as I've long grown tired of her act and would like to see something different.
Separating that from the match's quality itself, though, this was certainly on the positive side of things.
While it would have been nice to see the solidification of a turn for Dana Brooke, since WWE backpedaled on that quickly, the assumption is that she is still all aboard for helping Charlotte retain her title for as long as possible.
Keeping that in mind, the odds weren't so much against Charlotte as it normally would be in a Triple Threat scenario. Having Brooke in her corner was the equalizer to allow for some cheating in a match that has no disqualifications.
The friendship between Sasha Banks and Bayley is not irreparable, although it'll no doubt be strained due to the circumstances here with both of them arguing how the other got in her way.
Charlotte, meanwhile, will continue to be the driving force in the division. Everybody will strive to take the title off her to shut her up. It will inevitably happen, but there's nothing that dictated Clash of Champions was the perfect time for it.
Solid in-ring action is hard to dislike, and these women put on a good show and deserve to make the list on par with all of the other matches that were of similarly great quality.
Low Point: No Enzo Amore or Big Cass on the Card
By this point in the night, so many good things had happened that it seemed there wouldn't be any low points at all.
Then, a noticeable absence from the card popped into my mind: Where were Enzo Amore and Big Cass?
Outside of The New Day, there is no tag team more popular on the Raw roster right now than Enzo Amore and Colin Cassady.
In fact, it could be argued they are two of the top stars on the show in general without having to lump them into the smaller pool of the tag team division.
Not having either of them make an appearance was odd. There wasn't any spot for them on this pay-per-view in the slightest bit?
The pre-show consists almost entirely of recaps and filler, so there was definitely time to throw in a match for them against The Shining Stars, as those two teams have been feuding as of late.
Even a backstage promo would have been fun, since they are always good for some chuckles.
By no means was this the end of the world, nor did their lack of an appearance take anything away from the great things that were on the card, although it's hard to imagine seeing them in some capacity wouldn't have been yet another bonus for the show.
When that's one of the only things to complain about in regard to an event, the WWE Universe should still be happy.
Low Point: United States Championship Match
Compared to everything else going on at Clash of Champions, the United States Championship match was one of the most disappointing.
To start, the crowd can heavily influence a segment, so when there's an undercurrent of apathy toward a match, it's nothing but a hindrance.
By the time Lana interfered, the energy picked up, but the damage had been done.
Whether you should like or dislike Roman Reigns is up for debate and merely a matter of opinion, but if you're someone who doesn't have a problem with him, it's hard to sit through a match where you're going against the grain and have to actively try to enjoy it rather than letting it happen naturally.
Misery loves company, so the more the atmosphere sours, the more difficult it becomes to have fun.
That is certainly going to carry over into the future now that Reigns is the new United States champion, as there will undoubtedly be criticism that he was rewarded too soon after his suspension or that he's booked too strong, never loses, doesn't deserve the title and everything else that has been spoken of for months.
However, the future of the championship is not what's under the microscope here. Rather, it's the road that led to this point.
Much of this program has rested on the laurels of a single segment where Reigns ruined a cake and wedding dress with little else adding to the momentum.
This wasn't strong enough to carry the feud for two months—especially considering Rusev's absence during that time—so everything has limped on over time rather than soaring to new heights.
Out of everything at Clash of Champions, this was also the slowest match of the night, so it didn't even have that to counterbalance its negative aspects.
When it comes to complaints, this is far from something to cry over, though title changes should be special and this doesn't measure up.
Highlight: WWE Universal Championship Match
Kevin Owens and Seth Rollins have much more potential than what was exhibited here, yet to put that against them and say this wasn't still a good match would be doing them a disservice.
Just a few short weeks ago, both of these men were heels. This was our first taste of the new babyface edge for Rollins and it felt very natural. To coincide with that, Owens played up his villainous side as well as he always has since making his debut.
Table bumps are always fun, as is nostalgia, so Owens doing a D-Generation X "Suck It" taunt before crashing through a commentary table prompted the crowd to chant "this is awesome." Likewise, the callback before the Pedigree was funny.
Chris Jericho has been doing amazing work as the best friend of Owens, so involving him in this match to allow for some cheating and distractions fits in with the storyline and keeps the belt where it is without having to rely on Triple H making an appearance just yet.
That can be saved for later on down the line in the feud, which is likely to come at Hell in a Cell or Survivor Series, since this has the legs to go that far.
There is plenty more to see between Owens and Rollins in the coming months, and this was a good start.
What do you think were the best and worst moments from Clash of Champions 2016? Is there anything that didn't make the list you feel is missing? Drop your thoughts in the comment section below!
Anthony Mango is the owner of the wrestling website Smark Out Moment and the host of the podcast show Smack Talk on YouTube, iTunes and Stitcher. You can follow him on Facebook and elsewhere for more.