The WWE pay-per-view calendar will close out Sunday with Clash of Champions 2017, an event that, on paper, doesn’t look like a smash hit.
There will be plenty of gold on the line at TD Garden in Boston. Charlotte Flair will defend the SmackDown Women’s Championship against Natalya. AJ Styles will look to fend off Jinder Mahal to retain the WWE Championship. In fact, every one of the blue brand’s titles will be on the line, as the event’s theme dictates.
But that essentially happens at every PPV these days.
More than the presence of every SmackDown Live champ or the night’s rematches, the storyline involving Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn provides the most intrigue heading into Clash of Champions. Owens and Zayn have to win a tag team bout in order to keep their jobs. And their bosses, whom they have antagonized for weeks, will serve as the match’s referees.
Something big is set to happen in that contest, be it KO getting the boot or perhaps SmackDown Live Commissioner Shane McMahon turning heel. How that situation develops is likely to get folks talking after a show that has the makings of being quite average.
Clash of Champions is poised to be a narrative catalyst as SmackDown heads into 2018.
News, Potential Spoilers
It doesn’t look as if Becky Lynch will be one of the women surrounding the ring for the lumberjack match for the SmackDown Women’s Championship. She will be busy making a movie alongside The Miz.
Mike Johnson of PWInsider reported: “Lynch is being figured into creative plans on the SmackDown brand for early January, so she is about to finish up filming the latest Marine film.”
Production is set to begin on @WWEStudios’ #TheMarine6 starring @mikethemiz, @BeckyLynchWWE & @WWE Hall of Famer @ShawnMichaels! https://t.co/OFJD15Xihk
And ahead of SmackDown GM Daniel Bryan and Shane-O-Mac officiating Owens and Zayn vs. Shinsuke Nakamura and Randy Orton, tension has grown between the two authority figures. Bryan seems to have disapproved of McMahon’s actions of late. But that won’t lead to an in-ring return for Bryan despite speculation to that end.
The Wrestling Observer Newsletter noted that a Bryan vs. McMahon match is not in the works (h/t Marc Middleton of Wrestling Inc). The former WWE champ’s situation has not changed, and the company has still not medically cleared him to fight.
- Zack Ryder vs. Mojo Rawley
- Breezango vs. The Bludgeon Brothers
- Baron Corbin vs. Bobby Roode vs. Dolph Ziggler (United States Championship)
- The Usos vs. The New Day vs. Rusev and Aiden English vs. Chad Gable and Shelton Benjamin (SmackDown Tag Team Championships)
- Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn vs. Shinsuke Nakamura and Randy Orton (Daniel Bryan and Shane McMahon are guest referees)
- Charlotte Flair vs. Natalya (Lumberjack match, SmackDown Women’s Championship)
- AJ Styles vs. Jinder Mahal (WWE Championship)
- Rawley over Ryder.
- The Bludgeon Brothers over Breezango.
- Corbin retains.
- Rusev and Aiden English win the tag titles.
- Owens and Zayn over Nakamura and Orton.
- Flair over Natalya.
- Styles over Mahal.
Celebrating More than Rusev Day
The tag team titles contest promises to be a fun, energy-filled bout. The Usos and The New Day have killed it all year against each other. And now they get to work with four additional stars.
There isn’t a ton of buzz for this match, though, as the build has been so-so.
.@WWE SmackDown Live Tag Team Champions @WWEUsos vs. #TheNewDay vs. @Sheltyb803 & @WWEGable are now set to have a Triple Threat Match at #ClashofChampions! #WWEClash https://t.co/2w8ejFudZp
Rusev and English were late additions. There hasn’t been much in the way of storyline here, either.
It may end up being one of the big talking points of Clash of Champions, however, thanks to an upset. Rusev and English have been mighty entertaining as a pair. It’s a bit early to crown them, but WWE may want to go for shock factor and head into 2018 with some fresh meat atop the tag team division.
Owens and Zayn’s Swansong?
The actual wrestling will be nothing special. Nakamura and Orton aren’t a tag team brimming with chemistry. We have seen some combination of these wrestlers fighting several times over in the past few weeks.
Plus, it promises to be so crammed with shenanigans involving the two guest referees that everyone else won’t be able to get going.
It is a highly interesting match from a narrative standpoint, though. If Owens and Zayn lose, they will be gone from WWE. Unless they return as masked mystery men named Keith Owen and Samuel Zane, that’s not likely to happen.
Bryan and McMahon are likely to be the focal points, and something significant is on its way. Bryan may join KO and Zayn to push back against the commissioner. McMahon may become unhinged after not being able to oust the heels again.
However it shakes out, the post-Clash of Champions headlines are liable to focus on this clash.
The Riott Squad, Carmella and the bulk of the women’s division will be at ringside for Charlotte Flair vs. Natalya. And as is the nature of lumberjack matches, things will break down at some point.
This is a good chance to showcase Ruby Riott and her crew. They can wipe out the lumberjacks or take down the winner.
At the very least, they will provide a looming sense of danger as Flair and Natalya collide.
All the while, Ms. Money in the Bank Carmella will be lurking. There may not be a better time for her to cash in than after Flair survives a test from Natalya and then suffers a beatdown from The Riott Squad.
Styles vs. Mahal II
The Phenomenal One stripped Mahal of the WWE title just days before Survivor Series. The SmackDown main event scene instantly got a significant boost, and the blue brand’s contribution to the top of the WrestleMania card looks far more promising.
It would be a shocker if WWE returned to Mahal as champ.
The #ModernDayMaharaja @JinderMahal wants a rematch for the #WWEChampionship… at #ClashOfChampions! #SDLive https://t.co/5w3ulSloi7
The Modern Day Maharaja already got a major boost by holding the title. And the marquee never looked like a comfortable spot for him.
Expect Styles to lead the way as Mahal has one of his best career performances. But victory will belong to The Face That Runs the Place. With WrestleMania season approaching, having Styles wear the gold is the right move.