WWE Clash of Champions is the company’s pay-per-view where every title on Raw and SmackDown must be defended, but in the 2020 edition of the event, only one (real) title ultimately switched hands. In the end, the event saw some very high highs, but the lasting memory will be the main event, a moment where Roman Reigns truly established himself as the top heel in the company after brutalizing his own cousin.
In the main event, Reigns defended the universal championship against Jey Uso. The match was packed with drama and intensity that matched an incredible build across three weeks of intensity before Uso’s twin brother, Jimmy, threw in the towel after Reigns was brutalizing his brother. Jey gave a spirited effort, but Reigns was simply too strong and too good for his cousin, and began a brutal assault down the finishing stretch. Uso refused to acquiesce to Reigns’ demands he acknowledge him as the head of the family table and “the tribal chief.” As Reigns continued to drop punches and elbows on his flesh and blood, Jimmy Uso finally threw in the towel to save his twin from any further punishment.
The match came after an event that saw a total of eight title matches — the women’s tag team title match was canceled late after champions Nia Jax and Shayna Baszler were announced as not medically cleared for the event, and another title match got a different challenger — many of which stood out as solid efforts, though none quite matching the opening ladder match that saw Sami Zayn capture the intercontinental championship by outlasting Jeff Hardy and AJ Styles.
CBS Sports was with you the whole way through the event, providing updates and highlights as the action went down in the ThunderDome inside Orlando’s Amway Center.
2020 WWE Clash of Champions results, grades
SmackDown Tag Team Championship — Shinsuke Nakamura & Cesaro (c) vs. Lucha House Party: Kalisto and Lince Dorado were teaming with Gran Metalik on the outside, an odd choice given Kalisto and Dorado butting heads repeatedly in recent weeks. LHP got off to a good start, taking out Cesaro with fast-paced offense before Nakamura was able to take over the action on Dorado. After an extended heat segment on Dorado, Kalisto finally received a hot tag, leading to a wild spot where Dorado executed a dive to the outside and Cesaro was holding Kalisto, allowing his partner to execute a tornado DDT. A wild stretch of near falls ended when Nakamura hit the running knee as Cesaro used the giant swing on Kalisto to score the victory. This was a very solid kickoff match that got very hot down the stretch before the expected win for the champs. Nakamura & Cesaro (c) def. Lucha House Party via pinfall to retain the titles. Grade: B
Intercontinental Championship — Jeff Hardy (c) vs. Sami Zayn vs. AJ Styles (Ladder Match): As expected, ladders were brought into the ring very quickly, with Hardy taking the first big bump of the match, diving onto an upside down, open ladder after Styles sidestepped. That was part of Styles being the dominant offensive force early in the match, bouncing Zayn off a ladder in the corner as well. Styles also threw Hardy from a ladder early, as both men were climbing toward the titles, but that was not enough to keep Hardy down. Zayn hit an exploder on Styles onto a ladder as the brutality continued. There was a great moment where Zayn was alone in the ring, climbing a ladder before Styles threw a ladder like a javelin from the outside of the ring to knock him to the canvas. Hardy would eventually hit Zayn with a Twist of Fate before climbing the ladder, seemingly ready to grab the titles before Zayn started to tip the ladder over. Hardy tried to climb down the other side of the ladder upside down but took a nasty spill to the floor in the process — one of the more innovative bumps in a match full of nasty spills. Hardy eventually drove Zayn through a ladder suspended between the announce table and ring apron with a swanton from the top of another ladder.
Zayn pulled a pair of handcuffs out, used one to tie Hardy to a ladder — putting the other end of the handcuff through Hardy’s ear piercing. As he tried to handcuff Styles to the ropes, Styles attacked him, so Zayn handcuffed his own arm to Styles, leading Styles to knock him out and try to climb the ladder with Zayn on his back. Hardy climbed into the ring, still with the ladder cuffed to his ear and Zayn uncuffed himself from Styles before cuffing Styles to the ladder. Zayn then used the moment, with both opponents incapacitated, to climb the ladder on the opposite side of Styles to grab the belts and win the titles. Just a fantastic and brutal match with a fantastic finish that showed Zayn as a brilliant jerk, willing to do anything to get the job done. Zayn def. Hardy (c) and Styles to win the title. Grade: A
24/7 Championship: R-Truth was walking through the backstage area and walked into the referee’s lounge. As he left, Gulak was doing lunges in the background, realized his opportunity and rolled up Truth to win the title. Gulak was being interviewed about winning the title earlier in the night when Truth interrupted, hit him with a large metal bowl and scored the pin to win the title back. Gulak def. R-Truth (c) via pinfall to win the title | R-Truth def. Gulak (c) via pinfall to win the title
Raw Women’s Championship — Asuka (c) vs. Zelina Vega: Vega went after Asuka’s arm early before the champion briefly took over. As Asuka followed Vega to the outside of the ring, Vega took advantage by pulling Asuka into the ring steps. Vega remained focused on Asuka’s arm, locking up the limb or driving it into the canvas at every opportunity. Vega came close down the stretch to scoring a sneaky pin after all her arm work, but Asuka slipped her into the Asuka Lock to force the submission. After the match, Asuka called Vega a “firecracker” and offered some compliments, but Vega responded with a kick to the gut. An expected result, but a better than expected effort from Vega as she looked very crisp in a well-laid out match. Asuka (c) def. Vega via submission. Grade: B
United States Championship — Bobby Lashley (c) vs. Apollo Crews: Crews got off to a hot start, using speed and agility to offset the power game of Lashley. Lashley countered an up-and-over in the corner to take over the offense. Lashley tried to run Crews into the ring post on the outside, but ended up being the one to go into the post instead, allowing Crews to go on the comeback, including hitting an impressive press slam on Lashley. After a standing shooting star from Crews, he went up top and hit a frog splash, but Lashley managed to kick out at two. It only took one misstep from Crews, however, and Lashley was able to secure the submission with the Hurt Lock. Unfortunately, it’s hard to get excited for Lashley vs. Crews or really anything involving Crews and the Hurt Business after weeks and weeks of seeing variations of the same match. Still, a solid enough in-ring effort. Lashley (c) def. Crews via submission to retain the title. Grade: B-
Raw Tag Team Championship — The Street Profits (c) vs. Andrade & Angel Garza: Angelo Dawkins exploded with a big dropkick after being briefly isolated at the start of the match and Montez Ford followed up with a flip over the ropes into a dropkick of his own on Andrade. As Ford was about to get rolling, Garza grabbed Andrade from outside the ring after an Irish whip, pulling him out of trouble and tagging in to take over on Ford, showing their strengthening work as a tag team after Zelina Vega abandoned them. Dawkins took a hot tag and started to take over the match, but a blind tag led to Garza hitting a top-rope Spanish fly on Ford moments later. Ford took heaps of offense from the challengers before another hot tag to Dawkins, who hit a spinebuster for the win even though it appeared clear that Andrade kicked out. It appeared Garza was hurt during the match and the referee’s signal that an injury occurred was generally ignored, leading to him having to call an end to the match despite the kick out. After the match, Garza was shown being tended to by trainers. Generally a good match, but the finishing stretch was awkward as everyone tried to adjust on the fly and it wasn’t handled smoothly, though that’s not anything to hold against anyone involved. The Street Profits (c) def. Andrade & Garza via pinfall to retain the titles. Grade: C+
SmackDown Women’s Championship — Bayley (c) vs. Asuka (c): Bayley came out to cut an in-ring promo after her match with Nikki Cross had been canceled. Bayley asked to be announced the winner by forfeit in an “open challenge” when Asuka came to the ring and it was announced that an impromptu title match would take place. The action went outside the ring where Asuka dropped Bayley with a German suplex. Bayley then used a steel chair to hit Asuka, drawing a disqualification to allow her to retain her championship. As Bayley celebrated her brilliant decision, she was hit from behind with a steel chair by Sasha Banks. Bayley turned things around on Banks — who was still in a neck brace — throwing Banks into the ring and grabbing a steel chair. Banks kicked out Bayley’s legs before laying into her with several shots with a kendo stick. Bayley was able to roll out of the ring before Banks could hit her again with a chair, taking her title and retreating. This was a nice little segment after the Cross vs. Bayley match fell through. The match was nothing special, but Banks’ attack was a welcome boost to the situation. Asuka (c) def. Bayley (c) via disqualification. Grade: B-
WWE Championship — Drew McIntyre (c) vs. Randy Orton (Ambulance Match): McIntyre opened the match with a series of punches and kicks, taking the fight right to Orton. Orton went for an early RKO, but McIntyre defended before Orton used the middle rope to score a low blow as McIntyre tried to re-enter the ring and then hit a hanging DDT on the champion. Orton lined up a punt but his ankle was grabbed by Big Show, who returned for the first time since Orton punted him months ago on Raw. Show chokeslammed Orton through the announce table. Show’s interference allowed McIntyre to take over, attacking Orton and dragging him to the ambulance before lawn darting him into the side of the vehicle. Orton was able to fight back, attacking the injured jaw of McIntyre. The two brawled into the back of the ambulance before exiting and battling into the cab before McIntyre hit a Claymore, knocking the ambulance door off.
Orton and McIntyre battled into the backstage area before Orton was attacked by Christian, another man who Orton has punted during his reign of terror in 2020. The fight returned to the entrance area where McIntyre took Orton onto the hood of the ambulance, but Orton was able to slam McIntyre backward onto the windshield, the glass cutting McIntyre in several spots on his back. After Orton knocked McIntyre from the top of the ambulance, Orton was blindsided by Sweet Chin Music from Shawn Michaels, allowing Michaels to push Orton off the top of the ambulance. Orton fought back and was about to close McIntyre in the ambulance, but McIntyre was able to escape before hitting a Claymore. As he loaded Orton into the ambulance, he stopped, dragged Orton partway out, landed a punt and shut Orton in the ambulance to win. Ric Flair was then shown in the driver’s seat, taking Orton away. The whole structure of the match was odd, with the various types of outside interference. It made sense in a way to have Orton pay for his sins, but didn’t keep McIntyre strong in the end. Not bad chaos, but a little strange. McIntyre (c) def. Orton to retain the title. Grade: B-
Universal Championship — Roman Reigns (c) vs. Jey Uso — Uso and Reigns immediately locked up in a collar and elbow with Reigns pushing Uso into the corner. The two then stared each other down. Uso then started to try to use speed and misdirection to avoid the champ’s offense, but Reigns quickly took back over, shoving Uso into the ropes and saying, “I told you.” Reigns continued to dominate, cutting off every moment of Uso’s attempts to come back before Uso landed a flurry of strikes, ending in a Samoan drop for a two-count. Reigns struck back with a big Superman punch, but Uso rolled out of the ring to avoid the count. Reigns continued to lash out, battering Uso and taunting him, taking chops and battering his cousin with massive punches. Uso made a hot comeback, knocking Reigns from the ring, hitting a suicide dive and bringing him back into the ring before hitting a superkick for a two count. Uso reversed the spear into a pin for a near fall before he hit a superkick and top-rope splash for a near fall, but Reigns’ kick out also involved a low blow.
Reigns began to demand Uso call him his chief and said, “Acknowledge me as your tribal chief.” After Uso refused, Reigns hit a spear. Reigns then held Uso’s face in front of the camera and demanded Uso tell the world this is his camera, his WWE and that he is the tribal chief. Uso responded, “not today,” frustrating Reigns, who told Heyman that all that mattered was Uso acknowledging it. Reigns then dropped punch after punch on Reigns until the referee pulled him off. Reigns told the referee not to address him again or he would no longer have a job. Jimmy Uso ran to ringside, saying he was going to throw in the towel, but Jey told him not to do it. Jey begged him not to throw in the towel, so Reigns pulled him to the center of the ring and continued dropping punches until Jimmy threw in the towel for the ifnish. Jimmy said, “We’re family, what the hell is wrong with you. You’re the chief, you’re the tribal chief, just leave him alone.” This was a wonderful brawl and really drove home Reigns’ new heel character, establishing him as a remorseless monster who cares more about his place in the world than “doing the right thing.” Uso played his part wonderfully, working as the underdog and battling as the underdog who had no real hope of beating his bigger, stronger, better cousin. I wasn’t completely in love with the finish, but there’s something to be said for Uso battering his family to the point where someone had to step in and make the sane decision to end things. Roman Reigns (c) def. Jey Uso via stoppage to retain the title. Grade: A-