Last night’s Brand exclusive Pay-per-view, Clash of Champions, will go down in history as highly satisfactory. There wasn’t anything too surprising taking place in Indianapolis, but the purpose of these brand exclusive minor events shouldn’t be to end a feud and close a chapter, but to slightly progress the storyline. In fact, conventional knowledge would have these PPVs bringing stories to their ends, but in the New Era, these big twists and turns are more likely to happen on any given RAW.
The whole idea of Clash of Champions as a gimmick PPV is sort of silly. “Every championship will be defended,” as a tagline suggests that this is somehow a diversion from the norm. It shouldn’t be. But it is. Why is it that we don’t expect every championship to be defended on EVERY Sunday night event? Not to mention that this tagline isn’t even true, considering half of the titles are on Smackdown.
In the Modern Era (not to be confused with the New Era) of WWE, they have both added more championships and simultaneously put less significance on holding a championship. As time goes by, legends are made. Legends provide us with dream matches, which are larger than life and grander than any championship. This was no more evident than after the Invasion period, specifically at WrestleMania 18. Highly regarded as one of the most star studded WrestleManias, The Rock vs. Hulk Hogan dream match took its place on the card as the penultimate performance. It’s well documented that Triple H vs. Chris Jericho’s Undisputed Heavyweight Championship match headlined the event, even though it wasn’t close to being the marquee bout. But in the interest of protecting the integrity of the champion, it closed out the show following one of the most explosive audience reactions in wrestling history during Rock/Hogan.
We’ve grown accustomed to American pro wrestling being very story driven. We are an entertainment driven people. So, in the New Era, we find ourselves focussing more on the in-ring work of better athletes than the likes of Earthquake or Warlord. It’s a different kind of entertainment, but even great matches can become so common that it saturates our perception. Modern wrestling fans expect nothing less than a Five-star match, and this could potentially take away from the big fight atmosphere of a more prestigious event.
Most of the matches at last night’s Clash would have been considered perfection about a decade ago, and once again, the Women’s match was among the best of them. Charlotte, Banks, and Bayley put on a masterful clinic, with Charlotte assuming the Brock Lesnar role; being dominant throughout and coming out the victor (…or the Vickie? Victress?). Raw’s Cruiserweight title match between Brian Kendrick and T.J. Perkins was expectedly impressive, regardless of a couple of minor botches. The Cesaro/Sheamus best of seven finale ended in no contest after both men were considered too injured to continue (with some speculation as to how much of it was an actual work). Cesaro hit a disgusting looking suicide dive, landing on his neck, which left us wondering if he could have been paralyzed until he stood up and brushed himself off like nothing happened.
Roman won the U.S. Championship from Rusev, despite some distraction from Lana. And the main event between Kevin Owens and Seth Rollins did not disappoint, as two of the best performers with the most contrasting styles worked some magic together. But would all of these matches have been much more impressive on a major Pay-per-view? Are we, as fans, to expect the multitude of false finishes that we find ourselves clamoring for on a weekly basis? This type of consistence saps a finishing maneuver of its power. One needs to hit a finisher or three, along with some other signatures, to finally defeat their opponent these days. With these new found heightened expectations for superior athletic contests, I’d be more surprised if the first sight of a finisher lead to a three count instead of a kick out. My only suggestion is that they mix it up a little bit. In the interest of authenticity, every match doesn’t need to elicit a “This is awesome” chant…though to be fair, that’s more on the audience. It’s getting a little too easy to earn a “Fight forever” now. I guess it comes hand in hand with today’s hyperbolic society, where any good thing is “like, literally, the greatest thing ever.”
Yes. These matches are good. So good that we, as fans, could get addicted to it and build up a tolerance. If false finishes are a drug, WWE is becoming an enabler. Then, what are we to expect when a big WrestleMania dream match presents itself? We will expect something better than the best and inevitably, overdose. We will find ourselves perpetually chasing the dragon (and yes, that is a veiled Steamboat reference). If you eat cake every day, don’t expect to be as excited for it when your birthday comes around. Birthday cake, again? Ugh.