Hello wrestling fans, and welcome to another Slammer Jabber, your weekly dose of wrestling news and views. It's been a busy week especially in the world of WWE, with a PPV and two TV shows; while in TNA things look grave indeed. First up lets check out the WWE PPV Clash of Champions.
Clash of Champions
As has become the norm from an in-ring perspective Clash of Champions was a very good PPV, but the booking let it down very much on this occasion. I’ll start with the main event, which was very good in-ring, but left me feeling a bit flat. Seth Rollins needs to actually turn face in order for all of this to work, so this tweener gimmick needs to go if they want people to properly buy into him as a top face. Kevin Owens is doing well in his role, but this all felt like a diversion for both men, presumably leading to a Hell in a Cell match on the next show. Maybe Chris Jericho will be involved and this leads to the Jericho-Owens split. I predicted Triple H involvement, which we did not get but I felt the crowd also expected this and were awaiting it, and when it did not occur it took the air out of the audience. Sometimes predictable is not necessarily a bad thing. Anyway, the feud goes on, hopefully with a bit for heat because it seems a bit flat for now.
Another big talking point came in the Roman Reigns win against Rusev. The match itself was a barnburner and the second match of the night for me, with both guys putting in a great shift here. They have good chemistry and can deliver in big matches, and regardless of the whole “it’s cool to boo Reigns” phenomenon, he is one of the best workers they have when it comes to the so–called “”WWE main event style”. Not sure I agree with Reigns going over, but the US Title might help rehab him a bit between now and Wrestlemania next year, so I’m happy enough with this and it keeps him out of the Universal title picture for now which makes sense.
Elsewhere we had an excellent Cruiserweight title match between TJ Perkins and THE Brian Kendrick, with a number of impressive spots and a good finish. It felt a bit tones down from the matches we saw on CWC, but it was still very good with a post-match spot that keeps this programme alive. The Women’s three-way match was also very good, although I could do without seeing another combination of Bayley, Sasha Banks and Charlotte for a while or they risk overkill with this division. Definitely a need for fresh challengers here.
However, the rest of the card was predictable and a bit dull. The New Day vs Gallows & Anderson was exactly as expected and really does nothing for the challengers, while Chris Jericho vs Sami Zayn was a fun match that did little to distance Zayn from Owens as he sits in a holding pattern waiting for his next feud to start. The Cesaro vs Sheamus match was at least entertaining till the finish, which wasn’t great. I am sick of seeing these two face off, although by the looks of it that will cease fairly soon (more on that shortly).
Overall Clash of Champions was a show with good matches, but little of consequence happening. Which is a major problem for the red brand currently.
So we move onto the night after Clash of Champions, and what was bound to be one of the lowest rating episodes of Raw in history, as it had to go up against the Hilary Clinton-Donald Trump Presidential debate. It was hardly can’t-miss TV from WWE (understandably), but we did get a few talking points.
Most interestingly, and I believe this is the first time anyone has typed this, we had the Sheamus and Cesaro angle. With no conclusive end to their best of 7 series, which was uninspiring to say the least, they now appear to be shifting towards the two of them as a tag team, which I am all for. Neither is doing anything interesting in singles competition, and if they go with them the two of them could be a huge deal as a tag team. Both need a fresh start doing something new, and for me this is a great idea to utilise them both.
I also very much enjoyed Rusev vs Reigns to open the show. As with their match the night before this was a cracking bout between two excellent workers, and although I wish they would push Rusev as a top heel, this was a good match. Speaking of good matches we were treated to two excellent Cruiserweight bouts on this show, featuring Rich Swann and Cedric Alexander vs. Drew Gulak and Lince Dorado which was excellent, and then Cruiserweight Champion TJ Perkins vs Tony Nese which was another cracking bout. I feel WWE made a good choice putting the belt on Perkins and he is doing well so far. The division feels fresh and healthy and given time I think this will become a huge highlight for Raw. So far so good.
Unfortunately there were some bum notes for me too. The continuation of the Sasha/Charlotte feud is something I really didn’t want to see. And while I appreciate it needs a blow off match, let’s hope it happens soon, or they risk over-saturating the audience to the point where they cease to care. Finally we had the main event of Chris Jericho and Kevin Owens vs Enzo & Big Cass. I appreciate they assumed no-one was watching due to the debate and used the time to put over the champion, but to me this seemed an odd choice to close the show, and really didn’t forward anything or contribute to the overarching storyline. Not a bad match, and not necessarily a bad use of time, just an odd choice. But then this whole show felt a bit like that, with not much happening and everything seemingly in a holding pattern till next week.
This week’s offering form the blue brand was one of the more memorable offerings since the brand split, although perhaps not for the right reasons. Randy Orton and Bray Wyatt engaged in one of the most bizarre segments I’ve seen in a while, with Orton searching backstage for Wyatt with lots of weird horror-esque tropes and Erick Rowan hiding in cupboards. It was all very silly and did nothing except make the audience feel like Bray Wyatt is a joke, and at this stage he essentially is. He has come out second best in all his big feuds, his rambling promos have becomes stale and repetitive, and he has very little credibility. I’m not saying he’s beyond repair and rehab as a character, but he is getting dangerously close to that predicament.
Also this week we had a couple of cracking women's segments, which while short were effective in pushing feuds forward. Alexa Bliss has been a revelation on the main roster while Becky Lynch, Carmella, Naomi and Nikki Bella continue to impress. We had a fantastic 8 man tag which helped continue to push the vibrancy of the tag division, which appears to be going in the direction of Rhyno & Heath Slater vs The Ascension, and The Usos (complete with new music after their heel turn) vs American Alpha, all of which makes sense and should make for enjoyable matches. Despite my comments last week on hoping Dolph Ziggler was finished with The Miz I like the direction they took his week with Ziggler putting his career on the line against Miz. It probably telegraphs the result but at least it ups the stakes. Obviously, as I say every week The Miz was great here, probably the second best performer on this show, he's been brilliant this year.
Finally, we had the main event, featuring AJ Styles defending the WWE Heavyweight Title against former champion Dean Ambrose. We got an excellent TV match here, with some good spots and both men working to a fast pace, but they managed to still have a very different bout to their match at Backlash, which should be applauded, and the finish plays beautifully into the three-way dance with John Cena at No Mercy. Again, like with The Miz, I know I mention this every week but AJ Styles really is phenomenal, pun intended. He is at the top of his game and I can’t think of a better all-round performer in the industry today, he is just that good. This all feels like a fresh feud at the top between the three men with Ambrose and Cena as much at odds with each other as with Styles and it is working really well. In addition, Cena cut a fantastic promo on Talking Smack on Ambrose that was likely a worked shoot, but ripped Ambrose apart. Hopefully this will be referenced next week, because it was very good, and continues to help make the post-show relevant. I like that Smackdown feels very different to Raw, and having Talking Smack there helps reinforce this.
All in all a very good show, again. No drawn out authority angles, no terrible attempts at bad comedy, no filler. This is a great show pretty much every week at the moment, absolutely surpassing Raw in quality, and I suspect this week maybe in the ratings too.
Finally this week, we have the possible impending death of TNA. Total Nonstop Action, Impact Wrestling, or whatever name you want to give it has been in trouble for some time now. Many of its stars have left, forging new paths on the Indies or even in ROH or NXT, they have lost their big TV deals and now seem to be running out of money. It’s been known for a while that the company was for sale and was downsizing to stay afloat, and Billy Corgan came in as an investor of sorts ploughing money in to help the company. It now looks like the company do not currently have the funds to put on their yearly PPV show Bound for Glory, this Sunday. This is despite all of their TV building to it.
It appears that either Corgan will buy the company before Sunday, or if he cannot WWE will swoop in and purchase the tape library (and presumably a few contracts) and close the company down. In many ways I hope Corgan succeeds as he clearly has a love for TNA, and wrestling in general and it is good that there is a viable alternative to WWE out there. However, TNA has been such a shambles for much of the past decade that it is hard to see how they manage to pull it out of the fire here. Sadly by the time you read this, TNA might be well and truly dead. More on this next week.
That's all from me for this week folks, as always keep your eyes on Screenjabber for all your Movie, Game, DVD and Blu-Ray reviews, as well as all the news and views you need for your mind-grapes. I'll be back next Thursday with more from the crazy world of pro wrestling, and whatever happens in the next seven days with Raw, Smackdown, and possibly an obituary for TNA. Until then, so long.