It's here! RAW's first exclusive pay-per-view, Clash of Champions, takes place on Sunday, September 25 at 8 p.m. ET on the WWE Network. The hook for Clash of Champions is, as you can probably guess, very champion-focused. Every RAW champ, including the newly crowned Cruiserweight Champion, has to defend their title on Sunday. So, every match has stakes, and we should just dive right in now.
One last note: the pre-show will begin on the WWE Network at 7, so if you want to see the kickoff match and the vignettes and videos that will get you to speed and/or hype you up, that's when you want to start watching.
Kickoff Match: Alicia Fox vs. Nia Jax
What am I looking at here? Nia Jax is a monster, and that is meant as a compliment. And not just because Nia would wreck me and anyone reading this if she felt like it. She's no longer holding back with her size and strength like she was at NXT, and Alicia Fox has already been on the receiving end of that epiphany once. Now, the two will face off again at a major show to get things going, and chances are good Fox won't get the mercy of a count out loss this time around.
Why you should care: Nia Jax is a major part of the future of the women's division on RAW and in WWE in general. There is no one like her in the company, and she's finding herself both in the ring and on the mic. She's a destructive force that will likely, at the moment she decides it's time, be RAW's women's champ. Alicia Fox is a great first test — the first real test, considering Nia has been beating up on local talent — and it's one Jax is likely to pass with flying colors.
Those colors will all be red, by the way, because that's what color Fox is gonna bleed.
Sami Zayn vs. Chris Jericho
What am I looking at here? The redhead skunking down to the ring is Sami Zayn, who is the former best friend and now blood rival of current RAW Universal Champion Kevin Owens. Chris Jericho is Kevin Owens' present-day best friend, and he will tell you all about it, especially if you happen to be Sami Zayn. Also he wears scarves without shirts because it's very popular in hip European cities right now.
Why you should care: Jericho is doing some of the greatest heel work of his hall of fame career, which is saying something considering how much of that career involved him being a total (in-character) jerk to everyone around him. Zayn vs. Owens seems like an inevitability while Owens is the primary champion of the RAW brand, and it's not happening unless Zayn can get through his former friends' current best friend ever in the history of friendship.
Also, like, both of these dudes are dope in the ring and this would be a good time even without all this other fun stuff attached. That's why it's happening on this show full of championship matches even though there's no championship to be fought over.
WWE Cruiserweight Championship Match: T.J. Perkins (c) vs. Brian Kendrick
What am I looking at here? The Cruiserweight Classic is over, and if you didn't watch it, please open a new tab, go to the WWE Network, and fix that. A winner was already crowned — that would be T.J. Perkins — but the matches were generally great, and will be more than worth watching even if you already know who the overall winner is. WWE didn't just find themselves a tournament winner, but they also crowned Perkins the Cruiserweight Champion, and now he'll face his first challenger in the first one-on-one cruiserweight match on RAW: former WWE tag team champion and now-desperate veteran, Brian Kendrick.
Why you should care: Kendrick and his story was one of the great stories of the Cruiserweight Classic, as he was the veteran who believed this was his last chance for greatness, and now he's on RAW as the first challenger for Perkins. He got the chance he didn't think he would, but what will he make of it? Perkins is talented, and feels likely to retain, but WWE could shake things up in their cruiserweight division in a hurry and get the many faces chasing one of the few heels in Kendrick by doing so.
Best-of-Seven, Match Seven: Cesaro vs. Sheamus
What am I looking at here? Cesaro and Sheamus were interfering in the matches of the other to the point that RAW general manager Mick Foley pitted them in a best-of-seven series with a championship opportunity at the end for the victor. Sheamus won the first three matches by injuring Cesaro's back and then capitalizing on it, but Cesaro has battled back in spite of the pain to even up the series, and now we have a winner-take-all scenario. Drama!
Why you should care: Sheamus and Cesaro fight often, but the minimum match quality is somewhere around "pretty good," and this series has been no exception. It's still unclear what the championship opportunity is for — is it the United States Championship or the Universal Championship, which are both RAW exclusive — but given how both titles are involved in RAW's main event scene on the reg since the brand split back in July, it barely matters, either.
RAW Tag Team Championship Match: The New Day (c) vs. The Club
What am I looking at here? The dudes dancing around saying things are "booty" and shilling cereal are The New Day, comprised of Big E, Kofi Kingston, and Xavier Woods. The two bald dudes, one tall, one regular-sized, are Luke Gallows and Karl Anderson, respectively. They're two-thirds of The Club, and the only members of the stable on RAW, and it's about time they finally win a set of tag team championships.
Why you should care: The New Day are the longest-reigning tag team champs in WWE history, as they won the titles at SummerSlam back in 2015. They're great, but, and this is meant in the nicest way possible, it's time for them to lose. They need to make the next evolution as a group to keep themselves as entertaining as they've been, and shifting from tag team champs to former champs, tipping the balance of power to The Club, would go a long way toward that goal. The Club, too, could use this victory, as they seemingly have The New Day's number, but haven't managed to win the titles yet. If they lose on Sunday, then way too much running in place is happening, especially when RAW has other tag teams they could start spotlighting.
RAW Women's Championship Match: Charlotte (c) vs. Sasha Banks vs. Bayley
What am I looking at here? Sasha Banks defeated Charlotte on the first RAW following the brand split, but then, when Charlotte targeted Sasha's back repeatedly at SummerSlam, the title reverted back to its first holder. In between then and now, Bayley was promoted from NXT to RAW, and she defeated Charlotte in a match thanks to a botched assist from Charlotte's lackey, Dana Brooke.
That should have been the reason why both of them ended up here in a Women's Championship match, but instead, we got it because Mick Foley just decided that's how it was going to be, because a heel presented him with a logical argument (explaining that both Bayley and Sasha lost thanks to a double-pin in the number one contender's match) and that just makes him cranky. Never interact with authority-figure Foley if you're a heel, because his instinct is to ruin your life even if you haven't done anything wrong.
Why you should care: Forget all that Foley stuff, because these three have amazing chemistry — we've already seen it on display in NXT in the past, and the opportunity to see it here again in front of an arena audience is one we should embrace, even if how we got here had its annoyances. Plus, all three have grown as performers and characters since the last time they all interacted in a match with anything approaching this level of importance: seeing them bring all that new knowledge to the mix, especially in the case of Charlotte, who is leaps and bounds ahead of where she was at NXT, is reason alone to watch Clash of Champions.
United States Championship Match: Rusev (c) vs. Roman Reigns
What am I looking at here? These two were supposed to have a United States Championship Match at SummerSlam, but instead Roman Reigns beat the hell out of Rusev to the point the match never even began, knocking Rusev off television for weeks. Now, Rusev is back, and he's furious, and he's been interfering in Roman Reigns' opportunity to compete for the Universal Championship. So, Rusev has reason to be mad, Reigns has reason to be mad, and the two are going to beat the absolute hell out of each other.
Why you should care: Yo that last sentence was your hint. These are two of RAW's best, and they work well together and both hit the heck out of their opponents. It's unclear who's going to win, it's unclear how they'll win, and that level of drama is always welcome, especially when the feud is as compelling as this one has managed to be (once we managed to stop with the talking and get with the hitting.)
WWE Universal Championship Match: Kevin Owens (c) vs. Seth Rollins
What am I looking at here? Ohhhhhhhhh man. So, Seth Rollins lost to Finn Balor at SummerSlam in the match that crowned the first-ever Universal Champion. It turns out that Balor was injured during the match, though, which vacated the title, eventually giving us a three-way match with Rollins, Roman Reigns, and Kevin Owens. Triple H showed up on television for the first time in months to screw over both Reigns (expected) and Rollins (unexpected, as Rollins was his handpicked protege and the first-overall pick in the draft, made by Triple H's wife, Stephanie McMahon), leading to Owens as Universal champ.
Now, Rollins has gone from Authority stooge slash bad guy to babyface on fire, which is all we've ever wanted from Seth. He even went so far as to save Roman Reigns from an attack from Owens and Rusev, which just weeks ago felt unbelievable given their previous animosity.
So, they've managed to create a situation where Owens, who was cheered by the crowd he won the championship in front of, is probably not the wrestler people are rooting for here. It was necessary given how popular Owens is, even as a heel, but turning Rollins face — which he hasn't been since the summer of 2014 before he became the most-hated man in the business — was the way to do it.
Why you should care: There is, like, zero chance Rollins wins here. He likely will deserve to win, he's going to put everything he has into this match and fully shed his heel persona to do it, but it's not going to be enough — we haven't seen Triple H since he interfered to make Owens champ, and Stephanie McMahon is supposedly not in on this sudden change of plans, as Rollins was her guy. This is not only going to be a huge main event match for RAW, but it's also likely going to plant some seeds for WrestleMania season, possibly by dividing husband and wife and moving us closer to the day when Rollins will attempt to get his revenge against his former mentor.
Be excited for this, y'all. The build has been perfection, and they aren't done building yet, either.