Roman Reigns proved on Sunday night at the WWE Clash of Champions pay-per-view that the recklessness of his new person knows no bounds.
In a hugely personal and downright thrilling match, Reigns took every hopeful rally and outburst of insult his cousin Jey Uso brought up and returned it multiple times in the most disrespectful way imaginable.
Between multiple spears and many strikes, each of which could have turned out to be the end of the game, Reigns lifted Uso's head and urged Uso to acknowledge Reigns' superiority and role as "boss" of the family. He did it in many different ways, but the moment Reigns urged Uso to acknowledge his superiority as they both stared down at the barrel of the camera was especially exciting.
The match, as well as the setup and everything that Reigns, Uso and Paul Heyman put into the story is an example of how powerful creating a simple, compelling narrative can be in professional wrestling when done right.
No detail was overlooked. Uso had a nervous but determined look on his face and his eyes widened on both occasions to win Reigns for the Universal Championship. Reigns also started the match with a tinge of anger and dismissal that turned to anger as the game progressed and Uso refused to give up.
"I want you to call me 'boss'." WW @ WWERomanReigns sends a MESSAGE to Jey @WWEUsos at #WWEClash of Champions. #UniversalTitle pic.twitter.com/lRCeq8TAV0
– WWE (@WWE) September 28, 2020
They argued back and forth audibly throughout the game. The government prevailed against referee Charles Robinson and threatened his job if he continued to try to prevent him from attacking Uso. When Reigns damaged Jey Uso so badly that he could barely stand up, Jey's brother Jimmy ran to the ring and asked Jey to just let go and give up. They grabbed each other's hands. Jimmy finally threw in the towel and called Reigns the "tribal chief," with a horrified look on his face that Reigns would do this to his own flesh and blood over something so trivial.
And then, in one last small step, Reigns Heyman had the red flower lei that Jey had proudly taken to the ring with, and hang it around his own neck.
Gone are the days when Reigns was the cheesy, smiling star WWE tried to squeeze into the shape of John Cena. The rulership now before us – finally freed from the silly chest armor that is forever associated with The Shield and weighs down rulership – is now resorting to something profoundly powerful and has only just begun to show what it is capable of.
What's next: For Reigns, Jey Uso was just as convincing as WWE. While another match between the two could be great, in the world of pro wrestling there is a thin line between entertaining and repetitive. The government could have any number of challengers, but the real question that needs to be asked is what does the WWE think they are in Jey Uso now. Out of that story, if he can build on that stellar performance, the six-time tag team champion could have some brilliant days in individual action.
Ambulance game for the WWE Championship: Drew McIntyre (c) def. Randy Orton
What was once the hottest rivalry in WWE between Drew McIntyre and Randy Orton was brought to a boil over the course of a meandering month, but closing the game on Sunday night at Clash of Champions was as crucial as it gets.
McIntyre struck two Claymore kicks in Orton's head, including one in which Orton's head was propped between two ambulance doors, and threw Orton into the back of the ambulance and slammed the doors to win the condition and retain his WWE title .
But it was by no means the most dominant performance in McIntyre's career. In fact, it required the interference of three men Orton crossed over the course of the summer so that McIntyre could barely oust Orton in the end. At the beginning of the game, The Big Show showed up and choked Orton through the comment table. Later, when the action was backstage, Christian Orton hit the catering table.
SWEET. CHIN. MUSIC. 💔 @ ShawnMichaels just started @RandyOrton from the top of the ambulance! 🚑 #WWEClash #AmbulanceMatch @DMcIntyreWWE pic.twitter.com/dipfYd8iZF
– WWE (@WWE) September 28, 2020
And finally Shawn Michaels threw Orton off the top of the ambulance. For all this help, McIntyre almost let the match slip through his fingers. When he slung Orton over his shoulders, Orton slipped and hit an RKO. McIntyre prevented the second door from closing at the last moment and eventually set up the pair of Claymores that ensured him victory.
As the ambulance drove out, it was revealed that Orton's final victim – Ric Flair – was driving the ambulance and retrieving the vehicle from the arena.
What's next: It's hard to say how much that win ultimately helped McIntyre, from bright red chairs with a white cross on them, battles that went from the ring to all over the arena, and a tremendous amount of support. With Hell in a Cell, Orton could theoretically get another chance at the title. On the other hand, the upcoming draft – October 9th on SmackDown and October 12th on Monday Night Raw – could mess everything up. Whether he's on Raw or SmackDown, I wouldn't imagine it would take Orton very long to win his 14th world title.
SmackDown Women's Championship: Asuka defeated. Bayley (c) via DQ
THE BOSS IS BACK to see some from @itsBayleyWWE! #WWEClash @SashaBanksWWE pic.twitter.com/8trew9QhNC
– WWE (@WWE) September 28, 2020
Since Nikki Cross was not competitive, Bayley offered an open challenge that she did not want to honor. However, when she called for a referee to declare her the winner, Asuka stepped into the WWE Thunderdome and pursued the opportunity to hold both of the major women's titles.
But the match didn't last long. As soon as the action went outside, Bayley hit Asuka with a chair to trigger a DQ to protect her title reign, and that apparently was the end of the story.
Until Sasha Banks stormed into the picture with a chair of her own and pinned Bayley down in a moment of vengeance. The diminished and injured Banks were unable to follow up immediately, but eventually kicked Bayley's leg out from under her and used a kendo stick to get a couple of good shots before Bayley retreated to safety.
What's next: Asuka will come back to her own problems on Raw. For Banks and Bayley, it finally seems time for the two horns to lock and go into battle. This could happen once October Hell is pay-per-view in a cell, or possibly a little later on the Survivor streak in November.
Raw Tag Team Championship: The Street Profits (c) def. Andrade & Angel Garza
Street Profits held Andrade and Angel Garza back to keep the Raw Tag Team titles. @ WWE
Andrade and Angel Garza fought for the Raw Tag Team Championships prior to WrestleMania, but they were thwarted at every turn – mostly due to their own inability to stay on the same side.
The Clash of Champions Raw Tag Team Title Match was a different story. Without Zelina Vega in her corner and just as united in her efforts as as a collective, everything seemed to stand in line for Garza and Andrade in order to finally conquer the gold.
Unfortunately, a chaotic ending put an end to all of this.
After Andrade and Garza Montez Ford put their boots on for most of the game, Angelo Dawkins made several attempts to make a comeback. But Garza and Andrade had an answer for everything, including multiple attempts to pull Dawkins off his apron to keep him from interfering.
Eventually Dawkins set up Andrade and hit a spinebuster, with Andrade clearly eliminated after two points. Intentional or not, the umpire was out of position and counted to three, suddenly ending the game.
Where the mistake was made is unclear, although Garza was looked after by doctors immediately after the game. It could be a deliberate move or a real injury, but we probably won't find out until Monday night.
What's next: Unless it's a serious injury, Garza and Andrade should stand in line to become the Raw Tag Team Champions. Street profits hit a plateau during this title reign. If the injury is moderate or severe, Ford and Dawkins need new challengers. Things could get mixed up in a rush with the upcoming draft.
US Championship: Bobby Lashley (c) def. Apollo crews
You can feel the effects of this. # WWEClash @fightbobby pic.twitter.com/gHrMJgolF4
– WWE Universe (@WWEUniverse) September 28, 2020
Bobby Lashley, MVP, and the rest of The Hurt Business have inflicted great despair and damage on Apollo crews over the past few months, and Clash of Champions was no exception.
As Crews tried to win the US Championship back from Lashley on Sunday, there were occasional moments when he appeared to be employed to win the title back. There were standing shooting stars and moonstorms, a frog splash and all kinds of acrobatic maneuvers.
But the crews came up short again. After Crews made his big comeback mid-game, all Lashley needed was a one-handed chokeslam and full Nelson filing of Hurt Lock, and Crews quickly filed.
What's next: The hurt business is likely to have some unfinished and unsatisfied matters to discuss with retribution, so the crews will have to take a different route. It is unclear where this will lead.
Raw women's championship: Asuka (c) def. Zelina Vega
Asuka submitted Zelina Vega to keep the Raw Women's Championship. @ WWE
Zelina Vega hit the envelope at her Raw Women's Championship against Asuka with multiple pinfall attempts that looked like they might have ended the match, but at the end of the night Asuka predictably left Clash of Champions with the title intact.
After spending most of her WWE career as a manager for Andrade and later for Andrade and Angel Garza's team, she showed off her in-ring skills with a number of sharp combinations, including an attempt to submit a crucifix while she was playing Wrapped over the top was rope, followed by head scissors and finally a massive prelude.
Vegas big moment was a mess on the mat that led to two different creative leverage roll-up attempts, but Asuka slid the second right into the Asuka lock, finishing the match in a short amount of time.
What's next: There will be other challengers, but after Vega bowed respectfully, Asuka responded with respect and a bow of her own. Mega then kicked Asuka who was understandably angry and then screamed in Japanese. There will be other challengers to come, but there could be another match in the series.
Intercontinental Championship Ladder Match: Sami Zayn (c) def. Jeff Hardy (c) and AJ Styles
Sami Zayn celebrated his Clash of Champions victory by lifting both versions of the Intercontinental Championship in the air on a ladder. WWE
To watch professional wrestling fans have to suspend disbelief to some extent, but there have always been circumstances that put certain members of the audience into question. Why didn't wrestlers slip under the bottom rope to stay in a royal battle indefinitely? Why not let a friend attack you in the middle of the ring to trigger a disqualification and get an easy win?
Sami Zayn channeled these thinkers "out of the box" on Sunday night at Clash of Champions, creatively using handcuffs at both AJ Styles and Jeff Hardy to secure the Intercontinental Championship – either winning back or keeping the title, depending on your perspective .
This triple threat match hit the marks as all three participants gave their all. Each man was catapulted into the ladder multiple times, and with at least a dozen different ladders on the ring, violence was always part of the equation. The match reached another level when Styles threw a stepladder at Zayn as he climbed a ladder and severely injured his hand.
Styles and Hardy fell and burned the top of the ladder, with both falling onto different sections of the top rope at the same time. Hardy foiled a phenomenal forearm attempt by Styles by throwing the ladder on Styles as he was flying through the air.
Hardy had one of the main highlights of the game when he lunged through Zayn from an extra high ladder and bridged a ladder between the ring and the comment table.
"SWANTON BOMB BY @SamiZayn, THROUGH THE LADDER, TO THE FLOOR !!!" 🤯😱🤯😱🤯😱 @ JEFFHARDYBRAND just risked everything at #WWEClash of Champions! #LadderMatch #ICTitle @AJStylesOrg pic.twitter.com/QVOB9DzIIg
– WWE (@WWE) September 27, 2020
As the match ended, Zayn went back to his jacket on the ring and pulled out two pairs of handcuffs. One was looped through the huge hole in Hardy's ear and attached to a ladder. The other was originally supposed to incapacitate Styles, but when it went sideways for Zayn, Zayn attached the other end to his own arm.
Styles eventually got so frustrated that he put Zayn on his shoulders and started climbing. Hardy crawled into the ring, pulling the ladder attached to his ear with him, but Zayn quietly unlocked the handcuffs and locked Styles to the ladder's center brace in the center of the ring.
The chaos allowed Zayn to incapacitate his two opponents and retrieve both versions of the Intercontinental Championship hanging over the ring.
What's next: Zayn is one of the most successful irritating and effective members of the WWE roster. Avoiding the consequences against a wide variety of opponents well beyond the list is a smart idea. Hardy and Styles could take this into account, but each could go other ways after briefly challenging Zayn's reign.
SmackDown Tag Team Championship: Cesaro & Shinsuke Nakamura (c) def. Lucha house party
We go to the #ChampionsLounge … # WWEClash @WWECesaro @ShinsukeN pic.twitter.com/PuStcZiHjG
– WWE Universe (@WWEUniverse) September 27, 2020
While Asuka vs Zelina Vega was originally slated for the kickoff show, shuffling the card resulted in the SmackDown Tag Title Match encountering the opening slot.
It was a relatively simple game with Kalisto and Lince Dorado representing the Lucha House Party against champions Cesaro and Shinsuke Nakamura. The climax of the game showed the skills of three different stars. A delayed tornado DDT from Kalisto on the outside showed Cesaro's strength as he stopped moving halfway. But when Lince Dorado took a well-timed suicide dive outward, he gave the train enough momentum to finish.
Aside from a few key moments, it ended up being a very straightforward win. The match ended with a Cesaro punch in a Kinshasa knee by Nakamura against Kalisto.
What's next: Cesaro and Nakamura have achieved one of their clearest victories since winning the SmackDown Tag Team titles and they seem in need of new challengers. Assuming Heavy Machinery can break free of The Miz and John Morrison, they seem to be favorites, though a possibly imminent Superstar design could change the entire landscape in the near future.