Clash of Champions Thoughts

Corbin Macklin


At the time of writing this sentence, Clash of Champions is tonight and I am watching WrestleMania 35. I never watched that Mania because that year was very rough on me and I didn't have internet or a Network sub. I never watched it because as an avid follower of wrestling I knew all the outcomes of the matches on that card and nothing really stood out to me as something I needed to go back to watch. A few days ago, I was bored and started watching the show and... got bored watching the four way tag match. I started back up and got bored watching the Miz/Shane McMahon match. And that brings me to why I am writing about this in something that is meant to be my thoughts on current day WWE. For some UNKNOWN reason, WWE gave ALLLLLLLL the tv time on both shows to Shane McMahon and he was the biggest act in the company heel or face. Fans legit thought WWE was going to put the belt on him... because he got wins over Miz AND Roman Reigns. They did not use the heat he was garnering to push Drew McIntyre as the biggest baddest most dangerous heel or to elevate Elias as someone more threatening. Nope. Ultimately, they tried to turn Kevin Owens into Great Value Stone Cold Steve Austin aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaand that has not paid off at all either. The biggest storyline heading into Clash of Champions is the "heel turn" of Roman Reigns. I think not ONE new top babyface will be made from this and the fans will begin to speak positively of Roman and desire he finally be the top babyface before WWE turns him and the fans turn in kind.

Going back to the period in time which Shane McMahon was getting the most tv time and not getting anyone but himself over, WWE was trying to recreate the same storyline it has done ad nauseum since the Attitude Era with diminishing returns and amnesia. You have a top heel that has power ie Vince McMahon, The McMahon-Helmsley Regime, The Authority etc. YES the story is predicated on the heels abusing that power to make matches that stack the deck against the babyface but, the reason that the first one worked so well and boosted business so much was that it seemed pretty much every week, Stone Cold Steve Austin got one over on Vince. Some weeks Austin would get left laying or get screwed, but lest he lose all momentum, he would usually get some get back the next night or the next week, like the time he lost the belt to Kane and then won it back the next night. The way WWE books now is: heels get heat by leaving the babyface laying repeatedly. You'd think the babyface would go over after getting beat up the whole buildup but... nope. The heels win the first match. Then the heels beat up on the babyface some more and at this point you're thinking "omg they're killing them" and then the babyface gets an inconsequential tv win, maybe a little revenge one time. There is another ppv match. The babyface wins this one. SO OF COURSE the follow up is now they lose again. This just keeps going and is mostly the heel getting the better of the babyface. The assumption is that at some point at the end of this the heel will get their comeuppance but in modern WWE this is unlikely. Look at what WWE is doing with Dominik Mysterio right now. IF WWE wanted to tell the story that Dominik is this heroic babyface, then the aftermath of Seth Rollins putting his father's eye out is that he gets victories over Seth. But it appears that this story is the Seth Rollins story. That somehow the villain is in the role of conqueror. Rollins beat Rey, Rollins has multiple wins over Dominik. At this poiint I just can't wait for this storyline to END. I have no believe in the babyfaces to overcome. WWE has given me little reason to expect that. At this point I'm waiting on Rey's daughter to turn on the family and join Roillins. And this is why the viewership just keeps going down and down.

Something I hate about modern wrestling is... Stone Cold Steve Austin got arrested like 34759375490 times and fired several times while also being the biggest star in wrestling which of course makes all the sense in the world, right? Because the Attitude Era writing was so great yeah? But what they got right was... Stone Cold carried himself like a star. He was not down to apologize or kiss Vince's behind literally or any of the things that would have dimmed his light as the anti authority hero we all loved. Now every angle involving a firing or something like that is all "yeah you're gonna be in the unemployment line and your family is gonna be FUCKED" which is stupid because main event level wrestlers are pulling in millions of dollars a year. IT DOES NOT MAKE SENSE THAT A YEAR AFTER THE BIG SHOW CONSTANTLY CROWED ABOUT SIGNING A LUCRATIVE IRON CLAD CONTRACT HE WAS ON TV CRYING BECAUSE THEY THREATENED TO FIRE HIM. This dude came INTO the business winning a world championship. I am positive Paul Wight's pockets are STRAIGHT. So, instead of doing what makes sense, and booking him as someone who is RICH and IF WWE fired him, he could just go to ROH, TNA, NJPW or any other promotion in the WORLD... he's out there crying and bending to the will of The Authority. I also bring this up because I am loving the spice of Roman Reigns promos nowadays but then he's out there talking as though if he loses the Universal Championship it will hurt the family that has hella Hall of Famers, future Hall of Famers and current day talents. Dude. This is a dumb trope that needs to die a death asaptually. Wrestlers should always be presented as being rich famous stars who are at no risk of being hurt by any kind of unemployment. Even if that isn't even true. ISSA WORK. And no part of that work gets anybody over as a babyface when they're acting scared to lose a job where someone is spending all their time oppressing them.

Every single wrestler that goes to AEW must appear on podcasts talking about how Vince McMahon held them down. Then, they must show us now that they have more creative freedom to say what they wanna say and do what they wanna do... Vince was right to hold them back all along. Raise your hand if you've been blown away by anything Jon Moxley, Brodie Lee or Miro have done to this point in AEW.

There's no way any hands are raised.

I am writing this a full week after Clash of Champions because I really wanted to sit with my thoughts from the PPV. And see the fallout on television the week after. I thought the show was ok. Someone described it as two SmackDown main events sandwiching an episode of Monday Night Raw and welp. The IC title ladder match was insane. They tried to kill each other and themselves with some of those spots. And the finish was dope. I loved the main event. As a Roman Reigns mark, I enjoyed all the shit talking. I told my best friend going into the match that having Roman beat up his family is kind of killing his character because what is Roman Reigns if not the guy who is all about family? That's what a lot of people don't understand about "heel turns" which I suppose I can stop being stubborn and admit this is in fact, a heel turn lol. Usually people turn face and heel and there is no continuity. It's as if they have no character and all they do is just role play what a face or a heel is.There is no through line on their motivations and the things they would do and not do. I feel like unmercifully beating on his beloved cousin is something the Roman Reigns character would not do. But I have to admit that the way they did it? I loved it. There was story inside the match crafted through the shit talking. Roman started essentially telling him that he was trying to come up to his level but he LIVED at that level and Michael Cole was echoing that on commentary by saying that it looked like he was out of his league. Then by the time the finish was rolling around Roman was saying that he was the chief and that Jey should acknowledge him and it will all be over and Jey refused. Anyone who has ever been great in any quantifiable way can relate to that. The people closest to you often deny that you are what you are. It's crazy. In that way I related to Roman. He wanted his cousin to just say that he is what he says he is and pride just wouldn't let Jey do it. Jimmy comes out and throws in the towel and tells him he is the chief. On SmackDown Roman says he doesn't want Paul Heyman to call him the Tribal Chief anymore because HE won't call him that. Roman is giving the man another shot at the belt at the next PPV and saying this will be the most consequences ever in the history of the business. I am... intrigued as to what that means.

Literally nothing else at the show was worth talking about except that they did an injury angle with Sasha Banks weeks ago that should have put her out for months if they wanted to bother to pretend that this is real... and they have had Sasha on tv ever since and shot at least two more angles. I assume that somehow Sasha is supposed to go on to Hell in a Cell and just not have any chance of winning because she is so hurt. Which reminds me of the last unsatisfying time they did that with Seth Rollins against Brock Lesnar at SummerSlam last year. NO ONE went into that wanting Seth to win, and no one came out of that match happy that he won. Right now, Sasha Banks was a heel turned on by her heel friend and nothing about this has babyfaced her to the audience. I mean, all marks basically love Sasha Banks BUT. this build is suspect. The way it should be done is have Sasha go away for MONTHS and then be #30 in the Rumble and win it and then do the match at Mania. Give us time to miss Sasha and want to see her back. They did an injury angle like 3 weeks ago and shot two more angles in that time. The build is TRASH. Let's also not forget they kept building to them doing a match and then going back on it and they just stayed friends for like 2 years. They've waited all this time just to rush LMAO.

The other thing worth talking about at Clash of Champions was that Randy Orton is a great babyface who almost overcame being attacked by three villains during his match with the cowardly heel Drew McIntyre... except that the roles are reversed? Shitty booking, that. This entire feud has been all the fans anticipating Randy winning the belt and then WWE giving us Drew title retentions and then not ending the feud and doing another match. To a certain subset of the fanbase, which is basically all of the fanbase these days... Drew has looked weak in winning the first match by backslide and winning the second match because Randy was winning and three people jumped him allowing Drew to come back. I have liked Drew all the way back when he was skinny on SmackDown as the Chosen One. WWE literally has NO CLUE how to get a babyface over man, I tell ya.

I will end with: the scary thing to me as a Roman Reigns mark, is that I already know how this ends. At some point in the next year or so, Roman will turn babyface. He will stop doing smart things because WWE thinks babyfaces are stupid and heels are smart, which kills them in the eyes of the audience. He will stop talking shit during his matches and beatdowns, which will kill him in the eyes of the audience. Then we will circle right back around to everyone saying his push is forced and he can't cut a promo and he can't wrestle. BRO DID YOU SEE THAT LEG LARIAT THAT SHIT WAS CLEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEAN MAN LMAO. Anyway... WWE has a serious problem with only knowing how to make characters interesting if they are heel.