SPOTLIGHTED PODCAST ALERT (YOUR ARTICLE BEGINS A FEW INCHES DOWN)...
On September 27, 2020, in the Amway Center in Orlando, Florida, comes Clash of Champions: Gold Rush, the one time a year where every WWE championship is on the line on one PPV. A neat idea in theory, but in practice, at least WWE’s practice, you end up with matchups that have storylines that haven’t been fully baked. Sometime the storylines of the wrestlers involved have them on different paths. The story of Andrade & Angel Garza vs. the Street Profits is whether or not Angel Garza and Andrade can get along, with not much being added by the Street Profits. The story of Nia Jax & Shayna Baszler vs. the Riott Squad is whether or not Nia and Shayna can get along. The story of the Cesaro & Shinsuke Nakamura vs. Lucha House Party is whether or not the Lucha House Party can… wait… I’m sensing a pattern here. Other times, like with, Bayley vs. Nikki Cross, Asuka vs. Zelina Vega, and Apollo Crews vs. Lashley, the matchups seem like pairs slapped together just to get this card out. Fortunately, Roman Reigns vs. Jey Uso, Drew McIntyre vs. Randy Orton, and the Triple Threat Ladder Match elicit some intrigue.
Roman Reigns (c) vs. Jey Uso – WWE Universal Championship match
Story in a nutshell: It’s cousin vs. cousin when Jey Uso challenges the champion Roman Reigns and things get personal when bad blood starts bubbling up between the two.
After Big E. was taken out prior to a fatal four-way to determine the next challenger for Roman Reigns’s championship, Paul Heyman, under Reigns’s instruction, maneuvered Jey Uso to be Big E.’s replacement in the match. Jey won becoming number one contender. Tensions between the two built until an incensed Reigns attacked Jey on the September 25th episode of Smackdown.
Prediction: Roman Reign wins but I expect him to hurt Jey so bad that he’ll be out for a while.
Drew McIntyre (c) vs. Randy Orton, WWE Championship Ambulance match
Story in a nutshell: After back and forth brutal attacks that saw both Drew McIntyre and Randy Orton sent to the hospital in an ambulance, they face each other in a match where you need to toss your opponent into said ambulance in order to win the WWE Championship.
Drew McIntyre missed the Payback PPV due to being hospitalized after Randy Orton punted him several times in the head. Orton then won a triple threat match to become the number one contender at Clash of Champions. Drew claymored him several times, sending Orton to the hospital as revenge. Drew then introduced the ambulance match stipulation for their match. Drawn into their feud was Keith Lee who at first defended Drew’s honor at Payback, but his relationship with Drew eventually deteriorated as both alpha males asserted their dominance.
Prediction: Randy Orton wins. I think Drew and Reigns will end up on the same brand on the next draft/ shake-up. Keith Lee, who has been tangentially involved in this whole feud may play a role in the outcome of the match.
Jeff Hardy (c) vs. Sami Zayn vs. A.J. Styles, WWE Intercontinental Championship Triple Threat Ladder match
Story in a nutshell: Jeff Hardy tries to prove he is the legitimate champ, after accusations of cheating from AJ Styles and claims of fraudulence from Sami Zayn, by jumping off of ladders.
Then-IC Champion A.J. Styles attempted to rid himself of then-challenger Jeff Hardy by taking out Jeff’s knee. Jeff still faced AJ and won but A.J. claimed Jeff cheated as the leg brace Jeff wore gave him an unfair advantage. Then, Sami Zayn, who had been stripped of his IC Championship when he didn’t defend it, returned from hiatus claiming he was still the legitimate Intercontinental Champion. Jeff then challenged them to a triple-threat ladder match to settle things once and for all.
Prediction: Jeff retains his championship. He will also jump from tall places.
Bayley (c) vs. Nikki Cross, WWE Smackdown Women’s Championship match
Story in a nutshell: Nikki Cross gets one more chance at winning the championship from a now Sasha-less Bayley.
Nikki Cross won a Fatal Four-way to become the number one contender for the WWW Smackdown Women’s Championship at Clash of Champions. When asked on A Moment of Bliss what made this attempt at beating Bayley different from several previous failures, Nikki claimed it was a new aggressive attitude and the fact that Sasha Banks won’t be there to serve as a distraction. Ancillary to the story of this match is Nikki dealing with issues involving her best friend Alexa Bliss falling under The Fiend’s sway, and Bayley turning on Sasha Banks laying her out with an unmerciful attack.
Prediction: Bayley retains but I don’t discount the idea that Nikki might win if Banks gets involved. Then Banks can win the championship from Nikki. Banks, whose story is that she has never successfully defended a single championship, defends it against Bayley.
Asuka (c) vs. Zelina Vega – WWE Raw Women’s Championship match
Story in a nutshell: After dropping her charges, Andrade and Angel Garza, to focus on her singles career, is Zelina Vega ready for the champion, Asuka?
After months of endless bickering between the two, Zelina Vega had enough of managing Andrade and Angel Garza and dumped them to go after Asuka’s championship instead. Along the way, Zelina quickly defeated Mickie James to give her some “credibility” going into her match with Asuka.
Prediction: Asuka wins.
Nia Jax & Shayna Baszler (c) vs. Ruby Riott & Liv Morgan – WWE Women’s Tag Team Championship match
Story in a nutshell: Can Nia Jax and Shayna Baszler set aside their mutual distaste for each other long enough to defeat their challenger Ruby Riott and Liv Morgan, the recently reunited Riott Squad?
Unlikely partners, Nia Jax and Shayna Baszler teamed up to win the WWE Women’s Tag Team Championship from Sasha Banks and Bayley, despite hating each other. Meanwhile Liv Morgan and Ruby Riott buried the hatchet and reunited taking down the IIconics once and for all, earning their title shot.
Prediction: Jax and Baszler may finally implode, Asuka will need a new credible next opponent and the Riott Squad can use the rub a championship can bring. But I don’t think it happens here.
Cesaro & Shinsuke Nakamura (c) vs. Lucha House Party, WWE Smackdown Championship match
Story in a nutshell: Can Lucha House Party, Kalisto, Gran Metalik, and Lince Dorado set aside their burgeoning animus to win the gold?
A returning Kalisto has tried forcing himself as the leader of Lucha House Party creating a rift between the three. Now they have a shot at the titles.
Prediction: I’m giving this match as much thought as the WWE did. Champions retain.
The Street Profits (c) vs. Andrade & Angel Garza – WWE Raw Tag Team Championship match
Story in a nutshell: In the NINTH recent meeting involving some permutation of these two teams, we all ask why we should care when a Zelina Vega-less team of Andrade and Angel Garza take on the Montez Ford and Angelo Dawkins.
These two teams have gone back and forth for what seems is WWE best attempt to recreate Bill Murray’s “Groundhog Day”. Angel Garza’s flighty attitude has infuriated Andrade and the two have come to blows. Zelina Vega had enough and dumped the two to go pursue her single’s career.
Prediction: I can see the Andrade and Angel finally working like a team and beating the Profits only to have Zelina come crawling back to them after getting thoroughly trounced by Asuka. She could claim dumping them was part of her plan to motivate them all along.
Bobby Lashley (c) vs. Apollo Crews – WWE United States Championship match
Story in a nutshell: Apollo Crews tries to regain the title he lost at Payback from Bobby Lashley, continuing his feud with MVP and the Hurt Business.
Apollo Crews swore to regain his US title from Bobby Lashley and wouldn’t stop coming after him until he got a shot, which is now happening at Clash of Champions. Along the way, Cedric Alexander turned on Apollo and Ricochet, joining Lashley’s crew, the Hurt Business. Meanwhile the Hurt Business hired out their talents to WWE management to help take care of WWE’s Retribution problem (despite Retribution promptly then being signed to a WWE Raw contract, but “logic”, amirite, lol).
Prediction: Let’s move on from this. Lashley wins.