WWE Clash of Champions Preview: A night of firsts ahead

Dean Ambrose gets his rematch for the WWE World title (2:47)

Jonathan Coachman looks back at the top moments from Monday Night Raw and SmackDown Live including a steel cage match between Roman Reigns and Kevin Owens and Daniel Bryan granting Dean Ambrose his rematch for the WWE World title next Tuesday night. (2:47)

Sunday will mark plenty of firsts for the WWE, from its first Raw-exclusive pay-per-view since the July brand split to the first time its new Universal championship will be defended. Clash of Champions will also be the promotion's first pay-per-view event to carry that name (not to be confused with WCW's Clash of the Champions that ran annually from 1988 to 1997).

The most important first comes in the main event when Kevin Owens and Seth Rollins face off for the first time in a singles match since they met in Ring of Honor in 2010. It will be the first time their burgeoning feud will be given the proper attention since Owens captured the Universal title on August 29, triggering a chaotic -- yet unrewarding -- few weeks of Raw.

Let's take a closer look at what's at stake in each of the matchups heading into Sunday.

WWE Universal championship: Kevin Owens (c) vs. Seth Rollins

There's excellent potential in this one, not just for a four-star match on Sunday but also for an incredibly compelling feud to break out in the weeks and months to follow. Both superstars can do it all and there remains plenty of storyline animosity between them based upon the circumstances in which Owens became champion three weeks ago.

After Finn Balor defeated Rollins at SummerSlam to win the inaugural title, a serious shoulder injury forced him to give up the belt on Raw the next night. One week later, Owens captured the vacant title in a Fatal 4-Way, after Triple H emerged from the crowd to assist him by delivering a Pedigree to Rollins and Roman Reigns.

But Raw has largely shifted away from a specific focus on Owens and Rollins, with Reigns -- and the possibility of adding him to Sunday's main event -- becoming the show's focal point. As a result, the anticipation for Owens-Rollins has taken an unjust hit, despite the potential for magic between them.

The big question mark surrounding this match is whether Triple H will re-emerge back into the storyline. The disappearance of "The Game" from Raw has been a puzzling one, considering the hand he played in lifting Owens to the brand's biggest crown. He has yet to return to provide an on-screen comment regarding his motives, which has created a gaping hole in the overall story.

The seeds for an eventual Rollins-Triple H payoff have been planted going back to 2015, when Rollins held the WWE championship until his knee injury last November. It will be interesting to see whether Triple H shows up on Sunday to have a hand in the result and add more sympathy fuel to Rollins' turn to a fan favorite.

WWE United States championship: Rusev (c) vs. Roman Reigns

The participants of this feud have received more airtime and placement on Raw than anyone else over the past month and a half. But the majority of it has been gratuitous, as Reigns' polarizing popularity has prevented WWE from keeping him too far away from its brightest spotlight.

The majority of their rivalry has centered upon run-ins to each other's matches, often with Rusev costing Reigns a victory. They also fought to a messy no-contest in a largely forgettable brawl at SummerSlam.

The good news is that they work well together in the ring and retain plenty of potential to tell a compelling story. Should Reigns pick up the strap in this one, it would do nothing but elevate the title in the same manner in which John Cena did so in 2015.

But putting the title on Reigns would also conceivably keep him out of the Universal title picture for an extended period, something WWE doesn't appear willing to do by the looks of Raw over the past two months. Because of that, a non-clean finish -- likely involving Lana -- could be in order.

WWE Raw women's championship: Charlotte (c) vs. Sasha Banks vs. Bayley in triple threat match

The storyline involving this trio has arguably been the best-handled of any other on Raw since SummerSlam, with Bayley proving incredibly popular with fans since her call-up to the main roster. Her late addition into Sunday's title bout also adds interesting wrinkles to the overall rivalry between Charlotte and Banks.

It's still difficult to imagine an outcome in which Charlotte, the undisputed face of the WWE's women's division, doesn't walk away with her title (she's 11-0 in pay-per-view title matches). But the potential for a further strain in the friendship between Bayley and Banks remains strong and has been properly teased.

Considering the level of matches these three have put on against each other in NXT, this triple threat could very much steal the show on Sunday. WWE also has plenty of storyline options to spin off from, including the eventual comeuppance owed Dana Brooke for the abuse she has taken as Charlotte's sidekick.

WWE Raw tag team championship: The New Day (c) vs. Luke Gallows and Karl Anderson

The New Day's current title reign will reach 399 days entering this match and is already the second longest for a tag team in company history behind Demolition (478 days). Unless WWE has specific plans to see that record broken, there's no better time than now to see them drop the belts.

Gallows and Anderson have been given a more vicious and believable push since the brand split saw them separated from The Club stablemate A.J. Styles. But their feud with The New Day, which showed tremendous potential when it launched in late July, has been saddled by too much forced comedy. From Jon Stewart's involvement at SummerSlam to their "let's pretend this never happened" Raw segment two weeks later, it's been a rough recent stretch trying to build the intensity around this match.

Outside of their comedic missteps, not much has actually happened between the two teams since Gallows and Anderson "injured" Big E in August. The best way to inject more life into the feud would not only be a title change, but the injection of some internal dissention among The New Day members after the defeat.

Best-of-seven series finale: Cesaro vs. Sheamus

With blame falling more on the lack of creative wrinkles surrounding this series than the actual in-ring product, this one has failed to create any form of buzz entering Sunday.

Cesaro rallying back from a 3-0 deficit to force a seventh match proved entirely predictable and the generic prize of "a future world title shot" for the winner has done little to raise the stakes. Let's hope the two combatants -- both more than capable performers - save their best for last.

WWE cruiserweight championship: T.J. Perkins (c) vs. Brian Kendrick

While Raw's launch of its much-hyped cruiserweight division Monday failed to create the exact same magic seen on the WWE Network's exceptional Cruiserweight Classic series, there are plenty of reasons to be excited about Sunday's title match.

Perkins has the look and style to become a main roster star. Meanwhile, Kendrick's real-life redemption angle -- returning to the company at age 37 after a seven-year break -- adds an interesting wrinkle to the storyline.

Provided they are given the time to shine Sunday like they did in the CWC (and not used simply as Raw's shiny new toy), Perkins-Kendrick has all the makings to be a memorable match.

Sami Zayn vs. Chris Jericho

Don't let the lack of time that has been given to this feud on Raw rob from its overall potential for a strong match on Sunday.

Both Jericho and Zayn are incredible in the ring and their recent Highlight Reel segment was one of Raw's top moments in recent weeks. As far as throwaway, stay-busy feuds are concerned, you can't do much better than this on paper.

Pre-show kickoff match: Alicia Fox vs. Nia Jax

Count me as interested in seeing how Jax performs in her first feud after a series of recent squash matches. The buildup to this one has been strong, mostly for the incredible level of physicality shown for the women's division, complete with Jax spearing Fox through the barricade wall outside the ring.

Jax has the opportunity to become a unique attraction for Raw, and the women's division in general. How quickly she gets pushed up the card will likely depend on how well she can adapt to longer matches and more in-depth storytelling.

Consider this one a litmus test to where she's at.