WWE Clash of Champions 2019 Results: Winners, Grades, Reaction and Highlights
The allure of championship gold fueled the Superstars of WWE as they invaded Charlotte, North Carolina, for Clash of Champions, a pay-per-view dedicated to spotlighting the most coveted prizes in sports entertainment and headlined by Seth Rollins' universal title defense against Braun Strowman.
With an undercard featuring Kofi Kingston defending his WWE Championship against Randy Orton in what is sure to be an intense next chapter in their rivalry and Raw women's champion Becky Lynch's war with Sasha Banks for female supremacy on Monday nights, the event had a stacked lineup.
Would the matches realize their full potential, and what effects might the outcomes have on the Superstars, their ongoing storylines and the future of either Raw or SmackDown as the company ventures deeper into the fall months?
Find out with this recap of the September 15 pay-per-view extravaganza.
Cruiserweight Title Match: Lince Dorado vs. Humberto Carrillo vs. Drew Gulak
The cruiserweight title was up for grabs in Sunday's first match as Drew Gulak defended against the top two contenders on 205 Live, Lucha House Party's Lince Dorado and Humberto Carrillo.
An aggressive Gulak attacked from the opening bell, wasting little time testing his opponents. Carrillo and Dorado fought back, the latter delivering a headscissors on the floor. Gulak recovered, though, and shoved the masked challenger to the floor before focusing his attention on the young Carrillo.
The veteran Gulak downed his opponent, pulling him from the top rope and working his left arm. Dorado re-entered the bout but, much like the other contender, found himself on the receiving end of Gulak's relentless submission-based offense.
A handspring Pele kick from Dorado stunned the champion and sparked a babyface comeback. Carrillo followed up, leaving Gulak reeling. With Dorado on Gulak's shoulders at ringside, Carrillo sailed over the top rope and wiped out both opponents.
Carrillo tried for a moonsault but stopped himself and applied a submission that Dorado broke up. A series of near-falls followed before Gulak obliterated Carrillo with a nasty clothesline that turned the challenger inside out.
Gulak hoisted a charging Dorado into a dropkick on Carrillo, who was seated atop the ropes. Dorado tried for a Shooting Star Press but missed. Carrillo answered with the Aztec Press, but Gulak tossed him to the floor and scored a roll-up for the successful title defense.
Gulak defeated Carrillo and Dorado
Gulak is the glue holding 205 Live together.
Despite the talent of Dorado and Carrillo, fans have no investment whatsoever in either. Without Gulak's continued excellence and the standard he has set for his title defenses, this may have been met with even more apathy than it was.
Gulak has been presented so strongly as champion that the idea of anyone else currently on that roster holding the title is laughable. It may be time for a call-up from NXT.
United States Championship Match: Cedric Alexander vs. AJ Styles
The second match of the Clash of Champions Kickoff Show saw Cedric Alexander challenge AJ Styles for the United States Championship just six days after pinning The Phenomenal One in a tag team match.
Alexander fed off his home crowd's energy, delivering a Michinoku Driver that preceded a series of strikes and dives that had Styles reeling early. A release suplex on the ring apron and a Styles Clash on the arena floor turned the tide in the champion's favor.
Styles targeted the knee of his opponent, looking to take his high-flying arsenal away from him. Alexander mounted a momentary comeback, but Styles cut him off, delivered the Phenomenal Forearm and put him away with the Styles Clash for a one-sided championship victory.
After the match, Luke Gallows and Karl Anderson joined Styles for a three-on-one mugging of Alexander.
Styles defeated Alexander
This served no purpose other than to kill the momentum Alexander built for himself over the last month or so. If you thought a cruiserweight would never get a realistic opportunity to be presented as an equal to a main roster star such as Styles, you were right.
This did nothing to help anyone and was a waste of a pay-per-view match.
Raw Tag Team Championship Match
Seth Rollins and Braun Strowman kicked off the event, defending their Raw Tag Team Championships against Dolph Ziggler and Robert Roode before their universal title match against each other later in the program.
Universal champion Rollins found himself cut off from his partner and at the mercy of Ziggler and Roode's concentrated attack for the majority of the bout. The hot tag to Strowman sparked a babyface comeback as The Monster Among Men ran over the competition, unleashing fury on The Showoff and The Glorious One.
A blind charge into the corner, though, left Strowman striking the ring post. The heels tried to take advantage, but he slammed Roode and tagged Rollins back into the match. The exhausted Architect erupted with a Sling Blade and suicide dive, but Roode downed him with a spinebuster.
Roode tried for his Glorious DDT, but Strowman ran him over and in the process knocked down his own partner.
Roode capitalized and pinned Rollins following the Glorious DDT to pick up the win.
Roode and Ziggler defeated Rollins and Strowman to win the titles
The match was really solid, a good television main event any week. On top of that, the finish was the right one, as Strowman and Rollins desperately needed something to generate heat for their title match later in the night.
While it is hardly enough to get fans thoroughly into their dispute, it is enough to propel the story forward and gave fans something to sink their teeth into rather than the schlock they received in the weeks ahead of the bout.
With nothing else of any real note for Roode and Ziggler to do, a tag title run is as good as any use of them.
SmackDown Women's Championship Match: Charlotte Flair vs. Bayley
Hometown heroine Charlotte Flair challenged Bayley for the SmackDown Women's Championship, looking to inch closer to her father's record of 16 titles.
Flair was aggressive from the start, taking the fight to Bayley.
The champion fought her way back to the sanctuary of the squared circle. There, she slammed Flair down by her hair and went to work. As Flair built momentum, Bayley backed herself into the corner and, unbeknownst to her challenger and the official, removed the turnbuckle pad.
She pulled Flair into the exposed turnbuckle and scored a quick pinfall victory before running out of the ring and up the ramp while commentary put over the new attitude of the champion.
Bayley defeated Flair
As a match, this was nothing. As the latest chapter in Bayley's turn to the dark side, this was brilliant.
Not only is the SmackDown women's champion still delusionally calling herself an inspiration to the kids in the audience, but she is also now cheating to pick up wins. Rather than just quickly shift her attitude, she is enjoying a slow burn that sees her gradually becoming more and more dastardly with every passing week.
That sort of storytelling is missing in WWE today.
Hopefully, the champion can benefit from a new look and some new theme music at some point down the line.
SmackDown Tag Team Championship Match: New Day vs. The Revival
Big E and Xavier Woods toyed with Scott Dawson and Dash Wilder early in the SmackDown Tag Team Championship match, but the ever-thinking challengers created an opportunity and seized control of the bout.
Wilder pulled Woods from the ring apron, neutralizing him and leaving Big E to fight the match on his own. The Revival cut off the ring, double-teaming Big E and leaving the most powerful member of the match to fight from underneath.
A big belly-to-belly suplex allowed him to do just that and make the hot tag to a recovered and energetic Woods. The trombone-playing cheerleader for New Day planted Dawson with a big DDT, but Wilder broke up the pin by targeting Woods' previously injured knee.
On the floor, they leveled Big E with Shatter Machine and returned their attention to the prone Woods.
Like sharks smelling blood in the water, the challengers stalked Woods and put him down with another Shatter Machine. Rather the finishing him off to win the titles, they opted to focus on the knee, looking to further punish their rival.
Dawson trapped Woods in a submission, and the outmatched babyface had no choice but to tap out, earning The Revival another run with championship gold.
The Revival defeated New Day to win the titles
This was more story than match, with the previously injured Woods proving the weak link in the New Day team. The sneak attack that left him prone and the submission that cost him and Big E the titles did as much to put over The Revival's cerebral approach as it did create sympathy for Woods.
Wilder and Dawson's post-match promo, in which they promised a new WWE champion later in the show, suggested their partnership with Randy Orton was not a one-month deal to get everyone to Clash of Champions.
That is a very good thing for The Revival's stock as the team looks to rebuild after a disappointing conclusion to its run on Raw.
Women's Tag Team Title Match: Alexa Bliss and Nikki Cross vs. Fire and Desire
Alexa Bliss and Nikki Cross faced their toughest challenge to date as they defended their women's tag team titles against the team of Sonya Deville and Mandy Rose, known collectively as Fire and Desire.
Five days after having her appearance criticized by Rose, Cross downed her and mocked her hip gyrations, much to the dismay of Corey Graves on commentary.
The champions found themselves on the defensive as Deville and Rose isolated Bliss from her partner, opting to work over the former Raw and SmackDown women's champion. A neckbreaker by Bliss allowed her to create some separation and make the tag to Cross.
An attempt at a double-team finisher, though, saw Bliss tagged back into the match. Rose pulled Cross to the floor and then joined Deville for their own double-team finisher that should have ended the match. Cross, though, broke up the pin.
Moments later, she delivered her draping neckbreaker to Rose for the successful title defense.
Cross and Bliss defeated Rose and Deville
Rose and Deville have fantastic in-ring chemistry and absolutely should be the team that dethrones Cross and Bliss. With that said, the right team won here.
There is still mileage in the team, particularly since we have yet to get any sort of payoff to the story of Bliss manipulating her partner to help her win gold. It appears as though WWE Creative may have moved on from that thread but reintroducing it would not be difficult, particularly if Bliss gets the feeling Cross is costing her victories or holding her back.
As it stands, Cross was the star here, shining brightly and picking up the win by pinning the woman responsible for her emotional distress earlier this week. In that aspect, this worked.
Intercontinental Championship Match: The Miz vs. Shinsuke Nakamura
Despite a neck injury suffered at the hands of The Undertaker on SmackDown, Sami Zayn still managed a Superstar introduction for intercontinental champion Shinsuke Nakamura for his title defense against The Miz. Zayn remained on the mic, providing live commentary for his ally's defense.
His mic was eventually cut off and Miz put an exclamation point on it, launching the mic into the back of the arena. The distraction, though, allowed Nakamura to catch him with a kick and wrestle control away from The Hollywood A-Lister.
Miz slowed his opponent, taking out his left leg and firing off a series of corner attacks. A double ax handle followed for a near-fall. A big DDT earned him another close two.
A big left heel kick and a snap German into the corner sparked Nakamura's comeback, while a front suplex further put Miz in peril. Nakamura tried for the Kinshasa, but Miz dodged it and attacked the knee. A Figure Four tested the champion's mettle, but Nakamura fought his way to the ropes, forcing the break.
With Miz distracted by Zayn at ringside, The Artist delivered a big knee to the back of the head but could only keep the challenger down for two. The champion tried for another Kinshasa, but Miz ducked and delivered the Skull-Crushing Finale. A well-timed distraction by Zayn prevented the official from making the count, though.
Miz chased Zayn around the squared circle, running right into a big kick by the champion. The Kinshasa finished him off in the center of the ring as Nakamura successfully retained his title.
Nakamura defeated Miz
To say Miz and Nakamura had no real in-ring chemistry to speak of would be an understatement. This never clicked, with most of the heat reserved for Zayn at ringside. The mouthpiece for the champion should never be more over the champion himself yet, through no fault of Sami's own, he is.
Of course, the fans still reacted favorably for Miz, so that is something but unless the goal is to have him snap his big-match losing streak with a significant win, this last six months has done him absolutely zero favors.
Raw Women's Championship Match: Becky Lynch vs. Sasha Banks
The most heated match on the entire PPV card saw Becky Lynch defend her Raw Women's Championship against Sasha Banks. After weeks of intensification, two of the Four Horsewomen from NXT settled their differences in one of the most anticipated matches in months.
A focused and determined Lynch took the fight to Banks, catching her with a double ax handle on the arena floor. Back in the ring, Banks seized control of the bout, capitalizing on an opening and stomping away at her opponent. A kick to the spine further stunned the champion as dueling chants broke out.
A Meteora by The Boss earned her a two-count. She tried for another later, but The Man delivered a midair dropkick to the midsection to shut her down.
The champion fired up and fought her way back into the match, dropping Banks with a suplex. The challenger, though, halted her momentum with a Banks Statement. Lynch fought out and delivered a Bexploder suplex. A leg drop followed, but another Meteora by Banks earned the challenger another near-fall.
Frustration set in, though, and Banks let out a primal scream. She channeled that frustration into two running knees in the corner and tried for another Banks Statement. Lynch countered into the Disarm-her. Banks rolled her up for two, and Lynch reapplied the submission. An alert Banks fought to the ropes.
The Man launched herself off the top rope with a missile dropkick for a two-count, as the first hints of Lynch's frustration manifested themselves.
Banks delivered two straight backstabbers out of the corner and applied the Banks Statement. Lynch fought through the pain and rolled Banks up, but the ropes forced a break. Banks again targeted the left arm of her opponent and introduced a steel chair into the proceedings.
The challenger used the chair and delivered a shining wizard but was still unable to put Lynch away.
Lynch wrestled the chair away from Banks and swung it, accidentally blasting the official. She followed with a shot to Banks, who bailed out of the ring and into the stands. Champion and challenger brawled through the Spectrum Center stands, where Lynch applied the Disarm-her.
The fight continued for several minutes before returning to the squared circle. At ringside, Banks drove Lynch into the barricade as Corey Graves revealed that the match had been officially called off. Cole followed by announcing Banks had been awarded the win via disqualification.
The Man wore Banks out with a steel chair and then used the weapon to apply the Disarm-her. The Boss screamed in agony as officials arrived to break things up.
Banks defeated Lynch via disqualification
This was the first match on this entire show that felt like a PPV-worthy bout. The heat was there, the crowd was hot and the work from the competitors was phenomenal. Yes, the finish was silly, but it allows the feud to continue into another month, where it is likely to culminate inside the unforgiving confines of Hell in a Cell.
Lynch reminding fans that she is a badass who lives to fight was exactly what her character needed. She had yet to really pay Banks back for the attack that sparked this rivalry, so it was necessary that she match fire with fire in order to maintain the evenness of the program to this point.
This program still ends with Banks winning the gold, but why end a good thing prematurely?
WWE Championship Match: Kofi Kingston vs. Randy Orton
Just moments after one red-hot championship clash, the WWE Universe was treated to another as Kofi Kingston defended the WWE title against Randy Orton.
Orton dictated the pace early, slowing Kingston and grounding him with a side headlock. A big back elbow by the champion stunned Orton and forced the third-generation competitor to the floor to regroup. He nursed his left eye, with the elbow clearing having an effect on The Viper.
Back inside the squared circle, Kingston lit his opponent up with chops to the chest before a thumb to the eye slowed the babyface's momentum. He sent the champion into the barricade and punished him on the arena floor, slamming him head-first into the announce tables. A front suplex sent Kingston rib-first into the barricade, and a suplex brought Kingston crashing back-first onto the arena floor.
The champion's punishment continued with a side suplex onto an announce table. A second further damaged Kingston's back. The fight continued on the floor, where Kingston tried to fight back but ate ring steps as Orton continued his methodic destruction.
Kingston showed the resilience that sparked his magical run, though, and fought back into the match with a Boom Drop. He tried for Trouble in Paradise but Orton countered with a backbreaker. Orton tried for the draping DDT, but Kingston dropped him to the floor. A high-risk falling senton wiped The Viper out ringside.
Orton countered a cross-body block and delivered a dropkick for another count of two. He tried for a clothesline, but the champion countered with SOS for a near-fall. Kingston scaled the ropes, but Orton crotched him. The Viper tried for a superplex, but Kingston fought out. He dropped Orton face-first into the turnbuckle but quickly found himself leveled with a snap powerslam for two.
The draping DDT followed, and Orton called for the RKO. He uncoiled for it, but Kingston countered with a schoolboy rollup for two. A kick stunned the challenger and allowed the champion to create separation. Orton finally did catch him with the RKO, but Kingston was able to drape his foot on the bottom rope to preserve his title reign for a few more moments.
Orton teased the running punt to the head, but Kingston ducked. Trouble in Paradise followed, and the champion successfully retained his title.
Kingston defeated Orton
Kingston is the best, smartest and strongest-booked WWE champion this company has had in a decade. He wins cleanly and decisively, with each win solidifying his reign as the top dog on SmackDown. He has survived the onslaughts of Kevin Owens, Samoa Joe and now Randy Orton.
He has been allowed to have a title reign that rewards his years of hard work and dedication while also legitimizing him in the eyes of the fans.
The win over Orton was the first time his reign felt like it was in jeopardy. Now that he has downed the 13-time champion, he can claim superiority over the rest of the SmackDown roster. The question now is: Outside of Roman Reigns, who is left to believably beat Kingston in singles competition?
Or, perhaps, is Kingston's run at the top of the show destined to come to an end in a multiman match?
Or does it have to?
With every passing win, the happy accident that is Kingston's unexpected fairy-tale run becomes more and more magical. In an industry oftentimes picked at and prodded by critics, it is one of the legitimate feel-good stories the business has produced in quite some time.
No Disqualification Match: Roman Reigns vs. Erick Rowan
Erick Rowan schemed and masterminded numerous attacks on Roman Reigns in the months leading into Clash of Champions. On Sunday, they brought their differences to an end in a No Disqualification match that saved fans from having to watch the menacing Rowan wrestle a straight singles match.
Reigns took the fight to Rowan before the bell but had his early onslaught offset by a big back elbow that stunned him. The battle spilled to the floor, where Rowan sent The Big Dog into the barricade and face-first into the announce table.
On the defensive, Reigns retrieved a kendo stick, but Rowan cut him off with a shot from the steel steps. After a brief brawl into the stands, Reigns caught a stunned Rowan with the drive-by. He tore apart the announce table, but Rowan obliterated him with a cross-body shot.
Back in the ring, Rowan dropped an elbow and followed with a big splash as Reigns continued to suffer at his hand. His oppressive control of the match continued until an errant charge with the ring steps failed, with Reigns delivering a Samoan drop for a two-count.
Reigns sent the steel steps into Rowan's face and delivered the Superman Punch for a near-fall. At ringside, Reigns tried for another Superman Punch, but Rowan popped him and delivered a powerbomb, driving Reigns through the previously prepared announce table.
The fight spilled to the crowd, again, where Rowan continued to maul The Big Dog. Reigns found a conveniently placed piece of equipment and blasted his opponent with it. He followed with a shot from the jib camera and then delivered another Superman Punch that knocked Reigns down the ramp.
Reigns rushed Rowan with a full head of steam, only to come face-to-foot with a big boot from the returning Luke Harper. The former IC champion downed Reigns with a discus clothesline in the ring, and Rowan delivered an iron claw slam for the pinfall victory.
Rowan defeated Reigns
Under no circumstances should Rowan ever be in a pay-per-view singles match that runs as painfully long as this match did. Yes, it was an enormous opportunity to present him as a genuine force inside a WWE ring, but a match this long, even with weaponry and gimmicks, only exploits how limited a worker the big man is.
With that said, Harper's return is more than welcome. He is among the most talented big men in the industry and had been sorely missed. In fact, if he was healed and able to compete, it should have been him getting the 20-minute PPV bout with Reigns.
Most interesting was the lack of involvement by Daniel Bryan.
Many still assumed this was all manipulated by Bryan to make it more shocking when he was revealed to be the mastermind behind Rowan's actions. Yet here we were, with the perfect opportunity for Bryan to reveal himself the dastardly conspirator, but he was nowhere to be found.
Does he come back as a babyface, joining Reigns to battle the duo formerly known as The Bludgeon Brothers?
Or maybe he lures Reigns into a false sense of security before turning.
Whatever the case, the reemergence of Harper allows for a plethora of storyline directions, all of which will engage the audience.
Just as long as we don't have to watch Rowan in any more 20-minute marathons.
WWE Universal Championship Match: Seth Rollins vs. Braun Strowman
Just two hours after dropping the Raw Tag Team Championships in the night's opening match, former partners Seth Rollins and Braun Strowman battled for The Beastslayer's Universal Championship in the main event.
Strowman started fast, trying for a powerslam seconds into the bout. Rollins slithered out and delivered a trio of superkicks, followed by a frog splash, but was only able to net a two-count. Strowman's raw power allowed him to regain control, catching Rollins in midair and flattening him with a jarring forearm to the chest.
The challenger rolled over Rollins twice. The third time, Rollins dodged the charging challenger, sending him crashing over the announce table. Rollins caught the recovering big man with a suicide dive and then another, driving Strowman into the table, which disintegrated on impact.
Strowman caught Rollins in a third suicide dive attempt, but the champion fought out and blasted him with a superkick. The Monster Among Men recovered and scaled the ropes. Rollins ran up, trying to superplex him, but the challenger was able to toss The Architect face-first into the squared circle.
Strowman delivered a top-rope splash that brought the crowd to its feet. Rollins got the shoulder off the mat in just enough time to prevent the loss. Rollins recovered and delivered the stomp for a one-count. The champ, in disbelief, delivered a second for a two-count. A third earned yet another near-fall.
Strowman caught Rollins in a powerslam position, but Rollins escaped, dropped him with a pedigree and put the challenger away with a fourth stomp for the successful title defense.
As Rollins celebrated his win, The Fiend appeared and dropped Rollins with Sister Abigail on the stage. He followed with the Mandible Claw. The arena became engulfed in darkness, and the maniacal laughter of Bray Wyatt sent the show off the air.
Rollins defeated Strowman
How many times can Strowman be booked in these high-profile title matches, seemingly protected by his ability to absorb and absorb until his body quits on him, before fans stop caring? It is the same song and dance we have seen numerous times before: The Monster Among Men builds momentum, gets a title shot and fails while simultaneously being touted as this unstoppable badass.
The problem? He's not an unstoppable badass anymore when he's continuously beaten when the lights are brightest.
If anything, he is a placeholder—a star just significant enough to spark some sort of intrigue in his championship quest but who is really just holding things down until it is time for a Roman Reigns or Brock Lesnar or, in this case, The Fiend to step up and challenge in a higher-profile bout.
Speaking of The Fiend, his appearance and subsequent assault on Rollins was the most memorable moment of this main event. We knew going in that he was the Hell in a Cell challenger, yet his arrival still popped the crowd and created an energy that already eclipses that mustered by WWE Creative for Rollins vs. Strowman.