(CBS New York/CBS Local) — Clash of Champions marks the final major event for WWE before the company undergoes massive changes. SmackDown Live will shift to Friday night from its current Tuesday night time slot. Along with the move, another crackdown on talent sharing between the RAW and SmackDown rosters is on the horizon, as the second talent draft of the year is reportedly in the works for next month. Hopefully, Sunday’s pay-per-view will be effective in tying up loose ends from storylines that have been blending talents from both shows.
WWE is building Clash of Champions around Seth Rollins having to pull double duty while defending both the Universal and RAW Tag Team titles. Intriguingly, he will be defending the Universal Title against Braun Strowman, his tag partner, who he will be sharing a corner with earlier in the night. “The Monster Among Men” has made clear in recent weeks his intentions of taking the company’s top title, and it somewhat gives the impression that a heel turn could be in the future.
Meanwhile, Rollins’ real-life fiancée, Becky Lynch, will be putting the RAW Women’s Championship on the line against the recently returned Sasha Banks. “The Boss” has been downright venomous since her return a few weeks ago, in which she assaulted “The Man” with a chair. Banks has always thrived as the bad guy in the ring, but what caught fans off-guard was her former tag partner and sugary-sweet best friend Bayley going down the dark path with her. The hugger certainly will have no hugs to give as she defends the SmackDown Women’s Championship against Charlotte.
Elsewhere on the card, Kofi Kingston looks to continue his reign as WWE Champion, as he defends against Randy Orton, while Roman Reigns squares off against Erick Rowan in a no-disqualification match to settle the score after it was revealed Rowan was the man behind a series of backstage attacks on Reigns.
Incumbent champions historically have fared well in WWE’s version of Clash of Champions. In the two previous Clash events, titles have changed hands only twice out of the nine championship matches where they have been on the line. Perhaps this year will be different.
Seth Rollins (c) vs. Braun Strowman
Seth Rollins enters the match as the favorite, and it’s hard to see him losing the Universal Championship to Braun Strowman after previously beating Brock Lesnar twice this year. Strowman is kind of falling into the position of a guy who always gets so close to the top only to fall back down the middle part of the card. This go-around probably won’t be any different. Pick: Seth Rollins
RAW Women’s Championship
Becky Lynch (c) vs. Sasha Banks
Sasha Banks has come back from her post-WrestleMania hiatus on fire. She quickly reclaimed her position as one of the top women on the roster, and a win over Becky Lynch isn’t out of the realm of possibility. However, the nod should be given to Lynch, given the fact she will be on the cover of the upcoming WWE 2K20 video game and has budding mainstream popularity. It also wouldn’t be a bad idea to have the Boss and Hug Connection give another run at the tag titles or feud amongst themselves for the SmackDown Women’s Championship. Then again, Bayley could hop over to RAW and pursue Banks if her best friend pulls off the upset. This is a coin flip, but I’m giving the edge to the incumbent. Pick: Becky Lynch
Kofi Kingston (c) vs. Randy Orton
Kofi Kingston continues to roll as WWE Champion, in a reign that has lasted longer than most originally predicted. At this point, I would be mildly surprised if he lost the title before SmackDown shifts networks next month. Even though Orton has a bigger name, Kingston is their guy for now. Pick: Kofi Kingston
Roman Reigns vs. Erick Rowan (No Disqualification Match)
So it was Erick Rowan who pushed over heavy equipment on top of Roman Reigns after all. And it was also Rowan who was behind the wheel of the car that slammed into Reigns’ rental the following week. As the storyline goes, Rowan attempted to throw everyone off his trail, including Daniel Bryan, who was none too pleased when his oversized friend was unmasked as the assailant. Bryan hasn’t been seen since Rowan left him laying on SmackDown more than a week ago. So it is possible that we’ll see him resurface in this match. The question is whether that attack was an elaborate rouse. Keep in mind that plans originally called for Bryan and Reigns to face off here. So, with that uncertainty and this being a no DQ match, you have to figure some sort of shenanigans will be afoot. My guess is Reigns wins regardless. Pick: Roman Reigns
SmackDown Women’s Championship
Bayley (c) vs. Charlotte Flair
It’s semi-astonishing that Charlotte enters this match as the underdog. Yes, Bayley has been on a roll of late, especially with the return of Sasha Banks, but SmackDown is headed for big changes and has used Flair extensively in their promotional material for the upcoming network shift. One would think it would make sense to have gold around her waist before their first broadcast on the new TV home. Plus, as stated above, it also makes sense that Bayley and Banks chase the women’s tag titles, which is easier to do without another title in the picture, despite what Seth Rollins is doing. Pick: Charlotte Flair
RAW Tag Team Championship
Seth Rollins & Braun Strowman (c) vs. Dolph Ziggler & Robert Roode
Dolph Ziggler and Robert Roode have already shown that they have solid chemistry in the ring, and it would be “glorious” if WWE would continue exploring that. It also makes for a better plot line if Seth Rollins and Braun Strowman completely implode as tag champions before facing each other later in the show for the Universal Championship. Pick: Dolph Ziggler & Robert Roode
WWE Women’s Tag Team Championship
Alexa Bliss & Nikki Cross (c) vs. Mandy Rose & Sonya Deville
Fire and Desire may very well have their day, but it doesn’t look like it will be Sunday. Despite the odd blend of personalities and styles, Alexa Bliss and Nikki Cross make formidable opponents for any team wanting to go for the gold. Should Bayley and Sasha Banks make a run at reclaiming those titles, a matchup against those two would be appealing. A feud between the two teams would also be the perfect way to begin the inevitable split of Bliss and Cross. Pick: Alexa Bliss & Nikki Cross
SmackDown Tag Team Championship
Big E & Xavier Woods (c) vs. The Revival
Here is a solid opportunity for WWE to tie up loose ends as the brand split approaches. Big E and Xavier Woods will be defending the SmackDown tag titles against The Revival, who are on the RAW roster. The only thing giving me pause here is that the new network reportedly wants SmackDown to be more sports than entertainment. The New Day’s fun-loving pancake tossing antics are more the latter, while the old-school bruising style of The Revival represents the former. But I’m going to play it safe here, and if WWE wants to move Scott Dawson and Dash Wilder over to SmackDown, they can work out a trade during the rumored talent draft. Pick: Big E & Xavier Woods
Shinsuke Nakamura (c) vs. The Miz
You can more or less forget about the fact this is another RAW vs. SmackDown matchup, since the Intercontinental Championship isn’t brand exclusive. The Miz was made to look strong with a clean win over Andrade this week before being laid out after the match by Shinsuke Nakamura. That kind of gives the impression that Miz will be paying back the favor at the pay-per-view. Nakamura is favored, but I’m going with the upset here. Pick: The Miz
United States Championship
AJ Styles (c) vs. Cedric Alexander
This clash has match-of-the-night potential. For Cedric Alexander, win or lose, this is a huge opportunity to continue rising above the mid-card status, where he had been floundering until recently. I don’t think the title will be changing hands, as Gallows and Anderson will likely be getting involved. But Alexander will nonetheless be able to push his stock higher in defeat. His day will be coming sooner rather than later. Pick: AJ Styles
WWE Cruiserweight Championship
Drew Gulak (c) vs. Humberto Carrillo vs. Lince Dorado
Triple H stated this week that the cruiserweight division and 205 Live will become more closely aligned with NXT, as the developmental brand is elevated to national television. But that’s in the future, and this match will happen before then. Thus, it wouldn’t be surprising if the cruiserweight title match is relegated to the kickoff show once again. As for who wins, look for Drew Gulak to retain. Pick: Drew Gulak
WWE Clash of Champions
Date: Sunday, September 15
Time: Kickoff Show @ 6 p.m. ET/Main Card @ 7 p.m. ET
Location: Spectrum Center in Charlotte, NC
Note: The finals of the King of the Ring tournament were originally scheduled for Sunday, but will instead take place the following night on RAW.
Chuck Carroll is former pro wrestling announcer and referee turned sports media personality. He once appeared on Monday Night RAW when he presented Robert Griffin III with a WWE title belt in the Redskins locker room.
Follow him on Twitter @ChuckCarrollWLC.