WWE Clash of Champions 2019: Kofi Is Strongest Champ in Years and More Hot Takes

Erik Beaston@@ErikBeastonFeatured ColumnistSeptember 16, 2019

WWE Clash of Champions 2019: Kofi Is Strongest Champ in Years and More Hot Takes

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    Credit: WWE.com

    WWE Clash of Champions may not have been an explosive pay-per-view with significant developments that will shape the company's product for months to come, but it was an entertaining enough pay-per-view that further cemented Kofi Kingston's status as the strongest-booked champion in recent memory.

    Kingston's win over Randy Orton was but one highlight that sparked hot takes. Another? The re-emergence of The Fiend, who attacked Seth Rollins and set up a showdown between him and The Kingslayer as soon as Hell in a Cell.

    Dive deeper into the WWE champion's hard-fought victory, The Fiend's assault on the universal champion and more with these hot takes from Sunday's WWE Network presentation. 

Kofi Kingston Continues Streak as WWE's Strongest, Most Smartly Booked Champion

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    If you had mentioned that Kofi Kingston would be the strongest, smartest-booked WWE champion the company has produced in years, you may have been greeted by laughter. Here we are though, five months into his reign, and Kingston has developed into just that, thanks to some stellar creative decisions.

    Kingston has been presented as a fighting champion who puts the title on the line against all comers, instinctively accepting challenges even if they don't necessarily bode well for him on the surface.

    Resiliency, toughness and a desire to continue his monumental run atop SmackDown Live have led him to withstand the oppressive onslaughts of Kevin Owens, Samoa Joe and as we saw Sunday at Clash of Champions, Randy Orton.

    Kingston's win over Orton not only legitimized his reign, it continued the trend of WWE Creative treating Kingston like an elite star who accepts challenges, beats his opponents and elevates both his star and the title as a result.

    Not since John Cena's year-long reign from September 2006 through 2007 has a babyface champion been presented as strongly, as tough and as intelligently as Kingston has.

    So strongly, in fact, that the blue brand now lacks credible challengers beyond Roman Reigns for Kingston to defend his gold against. That is a good problem to have, but one that will have to be addressed as soon as Tuesday night.

The Fiend Thrives as Special Attraction Character on Road to Universal Title

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    Credit: WWE.com

    In an era in which overexposure has taken the most intriguing acts and watered them down until there is nothing left for fans to sink their teeth into, The Fiend continues to thrive as a special attraction that appears only from time-to-time.

    The masked enigma appeared as Clash of Champions went off the air, attacking Seth Rollins, putting him to sleep with the mandible claw and setting up their Universal Championship battle at Hell in a Cell on October 6.

    The key to the continued success of the character is the retention of its specialness. Keep fans wanting more from the monstrous newcomer whose horror movie elements and theatricality make him cool at a time when there's very little about the WWE product fans can label that.

    Booking him to appear every week would lessen the effect he has when he does show up and given the reaction for the character at Sunday's pay-per-view, that would be a tremendous misstep that would hurt his popularity and diminish the anticipation for the proposed title bout.

    Bray Wyatt has recreated himself, both as the host of Firefly Funhouse and his demonic alter-ego, and deserves the opportunity to succeed at the highest level. Keeping him unique and fresh is the surest way to ensure that this incarnation of the third-generation star does not descend into mediocrity the way The Eater of Worlds did.

Becky Lynch and Sasha Banks Appropriately Set Their Sights on Hell in a Cell

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    The intensity of the Becky Lynch-Sasha Banks rivalry made for the hottest match on the Clash of Champions pay-per-view. The disdain they showed for each other throughout the contest, and during the post-match brawl that spilled into the stands, only enhanced the crowd's appreciation for their feud.

    More importantly, it set them on course for a rematch inside the unforgiving confines of Hell in a Cell.

    Banks made history in 2016, becoming the first woman to compete inside the structure and in a pay-per-view main event when she defended the Raw women's title against Charlotte Flair.

    Lynch has been in her fair share of wars this year and her attitude, coupled with a no-nonsense in-ring approach, would fit the gimmick bout just fine.

    It is thanks to the aforementioned intensity demonstrated by Lynch and Banks that the match is deserving, and appropriate, for the cell. In one match, the women delivered a harder-hitting match in which the dislike was evident and the desire to leave with the championship was obvious. They do not like each other, they will not stop until they can put the other away, even if that means tearing arenas apart in wild brawls to do so.

    The cell keeps them confined to the ring and its surrounding area, encourages the use of weaponry and keeps both Bayley and Charlotte Flair from interfering. At least in theory.

    Best of all, the popular specialty match still carries a certain legitimacy that enhances the feud, elevates the title and heightens the significance of the storyline.

Bayley's Gradual Descent from Babyface to Heel the Underrated Highlight from PPV

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    The SmackDown Women's Championship match between Charlotte Flair and Bayley was not the mat classic fans expected but it will have long-reaching effects on the shift in the champion's character going forward.

    Bayley defeated Flair after sending her face-first into an exposed turnbuckle, then raced up the ramp to the sanctuary of the backstage area. The dastardly actions of the titleholder were the latest in her gradual shift in character, a welcome change to the sudden and inexplicable turns that have engulfed WWE programming over the years.

    Yes, Bayley is a heel by her association with Sasha Banks alone. Yes, she betrayed Becky Lynch and assaulted her with a steel chair. Yet, the women's champion insisted she was still the same woman devoted to being an inspiration for young people everywhere.

    Delusional, she talked about setting an example for them to work hard, never give up and achieve their dreams, despite her shocking actions toward Lynch. Just in case you did not get the disingenuous, slightly delusional nature of the promo, her actions Sunday added to her heel persona.

    Bayley has become an opportunistic, cowardly heel who takes shortcuts to successfully retain her title. As her new attitude sets in, it will be important for her to shift her look, change her entrance music and adopt the dark side.

    But not yet.

    The pacing has been perfect, her work on the mic has been beautiful and the champion will benefit exponentially as a result.

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