Jinder Mahal cashes in his rematch clause, hoping to win back the WWE Championship from A.J. Styles. Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn fight to keep their jobs, as Daniel Bryan attempts to stop Shane McMahon’s hatred for the pair costing Smackdown Live two of its top stars…
Baron Corbin (C)
WWE United States Championship
(Winner via pinfall, and new champion: Dolph Ziggler)
Jimmy Uso & Jey Uso (“The Uso’s”) (C)
Rusev & Aiden English
Shelton Benjamin & Chad Gable
Big E & Kofi Kingston (with Xavier Woods, “The New Day”)
Fatal-4-Way for the WWE Smackdown Tag Team Championship
(Winners via pinfall: The Uso’s)
Charlotte Flair (C)
Lumberjack Match for the WWE Smackdown Women’s Championship
(Winner via submission: Charlotte Flair)
Tyler Breeze & Fandango (“Breezango”)
Luke Harper & Eric Rowan (“Bludgeon Brothers”)
(Winners via pinfall: The Bludgeon Brothers)
Kevin Owens & Sami Zayn
Randy Orton & Shinsuke Nakamura
Daniel Bryan & Shane McMahon as Special Referees. If Zayn & Owens lose, they are fired from WWE
(Winners via pinfall: Zayn & Owens)
A.J. Styles (C)
Jinder Mahal (with The Singh Brothers)
(Winner via pinfall: AJ Styles)
If you were to study the card for Clash of Champions 2017 before viewing it, you would likely make certain assumptions. The three way for the WWE United States Championship would be a stormer of an opener, and the tag team fatal four way would have fans on the edge of their seats. The umpteenth match between Natalya and Charlotte Flair would likely be messy due to all the women at ringside, the Bludgeon Brothers would destroy Breezango, and the big career threatening tag match would entirely be about Daniel Bryan and Shane McMahon’s clash as joint referees. To finish, the WWE Championship may surprise you, but if it does, that would be down almost entirely to A.J. Styles, not Jinder Mahal. You would be correct on all counts.
It has been a long time since it felt like Smackdown was going into a PPV hot, and their final special event of 2017 did nothing to change that. I’d argue that the wheels were taken off the brands momentum as far back as the road to Wrestlemania, when pieces were awkwardly moved around to suit Vince McMahon’s booking plans for the big show, and it has never recovered. Twelve months ago, every PPV from the blue brand was must-see.
One of the problems, as we headed into Clash of Champions, is Smackdown‘s very small roster (or rather, a desire to focus on a small fraction of it). None of these feuds are fresh, and the long gap between Smackdown‘s own exclusive PPV’s has dragged them on even longer, making for a show where you almost just wish it was over so that the show could finally wrap up many of the angles its been running.
As far as match quality goes, this was a decent show. The triple threat was good fun, enhanced somewhat by the near falls (on Bobby Roode, in particularly), and had an outcome that raises a lot of eyebrows. Dolph Ziggler as WWE United States Champion again? Curious move.
The tag match was very good, and I cannot praise WWE enough for finally presenting us with a four-team tag match that has a representative of each team legal at all times. It infuriates me when only two men can be legal at any time, but there are more than two teams competing. Crazy to see Rusev over so much, making him the next in an increasingly long line of superstars who have got themselves over with fans due to their antics on social media (check out his Twitter feed, it’s great entertainment).
After this, it got a little inconsistent. I liked that Breezango were allowed to get a little offence in on the Bludgeon Brothers so to avoid making them look like jobbers in defeat, but I disliked Natalya and Charlotte Flair’s feud-ending (presumably?) lumberjack match. These two women either steal the show when they face off, or they deliver absolute mediocrity. Sadly, it was the latter on this occasion.
If Shane McMahon isn’t turning heel, then WWE are absolute idiots, as there is no way the fans are going to accept Daniel Bryan as a villain. They tried this ahead of Wrestlemania 30 when he joined the Wyatt Family, and fans didn’t accept it then, nor will they now. If it wasn’t for Bryan’s very honest interviews about WWE not clearing him to wrestle again, one would assume that his and Shane’s spat here at Clash of Champions was setting up a match between the two at Wrestlemania 34. It’s possible that we are being worked, and that the match is being planned, but I refuse to get my hopes up at this point. Decent match, by the way, but it was never about the competitors, and always about Bryan and McMahon.
The main event hopefully delivered us Jinder Mahal’s last time in that spot. His title run was a failure, top to bottom, and I’m delighted that WWE resisted the urge to put the championship back on him in his match with A.J. Styles. I’m sure I wasn’t the only person a little worried about such an event taking place, so many sighs of relief could likely be heard around the world when Styles got the three count, and the win. Both men put on a decent main event, and it was certainly Mahal’s best championship match on PPV since he reached that level earlier in 2017, but the experiment must now be over and Styles should move on to his next opponent.
Smackdown knocked it out of the park in the second half of 2016, but 2017 has been a challenge. I hope that some lessons have been learnt, and that 2018 sees an uptick in quality, because the weekly show can’t simply continue to be by the numbers, nor can it’s monthly PPV’s. “By the numbers,” is exactly what Clash of Champions 2017 was.
Match of the Night
The Uso’s vs. Rusev & English vs. Benjamin & Gable vs. The New Day