WWE Clash of Champions
December 17 2017
I completely forgot this was a thing. I’m not watching much wrestling at the moment because it’s the end of the year and I’m pretty fucking tired but I have seen every WWE PPV this year so I might as well finish up with 100%. We’re in Boston. Hosts are Tom “face fucker” Phillips, Byron Saxton and ‘please save us from terrible commentary’ Corey Graves.
WWE United States Championship
Baron Corbin (c) vs. Bobby Roode vs. Dolph Ziggler
Roode cannot shake off Ziggler, which is bad news for him. I really don’t care about any of these guys. I have no reason to. As soon as Roode has completed his entrance the best part of the match is over. Balding Barry needs to sort his hair out. It’s looked bad for his entire WWE run and I’m shocked nobody has told him to cut it. “Dolph may be the greatest in-ring competitor of all time” says Graves. Holy shit, mate, way to kill your credibility! The usual three-way issues are here. One guy lying around selling for ages while the other two wrestle. Corbin is the weak link. The match is a chore when he’s in there and picks up notably when he’s not. There are kick-out issues too where a save would make more sense. It’s not well constructed but the crowd get into it thanks to the proliferation of cool looking stuff.
It also picks up nicely down the stretch and it turns into the hot opener the company must have wanted. Corbin’s role is reduced to a cameo and that’s where he belongs. They do wonderful stuff with Roode hitting his finish and Corbin failing to stop the pin, then pulling Bobby out of the ring. It plays off the ‘heel steals the pin’ trope perfectly. Then Ziggler pulls the Zigzag out of his ass and wins the title. Holy shit, colour me surprised. Corbin’s run as US Champion was almost an apology for his derailed run for the WWE title. Looks like Roode will be chasing Ziggler in the new year. Cool finish. The match got better and better after a shaky start. Had it been consistently that good it would have been a real show-stealer.
Final Rating: ***1/2
Video Control takes us backstage where Daniel Bryan and Shane McMahon have another disagreement. This ‘two referees in the ring’ is going to be a car crash. Elsewhere Barry Corbin is baited by an interviewer into losing his temper.
Smackdown Tag Team Championship
The Usos (c) vs. Rusev & Aiden English vs. Chad Gable & Shelton Benjamin vs. The New Day
Crowd are super into the “Rusev Day” shtick. I’m pleased for Rusev. I thought John Cena had killed him off for good with that stupid flag match.
There are four guys in the ring at all times and they can only tag out to their own tag partners, which makes this a rarity. The tropes are being toyed with tonight. With four guys in there no one can get an advantage. It’s pandelerium! Rusev looks like a monster, smashing up everyone, which is as it should be as he’s clearly the biggest star in this. It gets a bit weird as they get lost and Gable and English both just randomly hook holds. It’s a confusing nonsensical mess, which is probably because it’s not been done before so nobody knows what they’re supposed to be doing. When New Day and Usos team up it doesn’t make sense either as they’re coming off a huge feud and should hate each other. The crowd go all-in on Rusev and the match structure comes to meet it, by having Rusev get lots of near falls. Props to Gable too for popping off Chaos Theory on Big E. Usos double team him to retain though. This match was a car crash at times and it wasn’t until Rusev took over that it made any sense. If they do this again it’ll require more planning!
Final Rating: **3/4
Smackdown Women’s Championship
Charlotte Flair (c) vs. Natalya
In a rarity they had Charlotte win in her hometown. Normally home town faces lose. It’s good for heat you see. But they had a recovered Ric Flair to wheel out at the conclusion. It’s a bit weird having this as the title match as Ruby Riot(t) is now the focal point of the division. The booking of the Smackdown women’s division has been hit and miss but the Riott Squad has given it turned the entire division into a relevant storyline. Everyone has a stake in this. It’s good stuff. Ruby is the saviour. All the lumberjacks (lumberjills?) get entrances, which is a bit strange.
At ringside for Charlotte is Naomi. At ringside for the heels; everyone else. Carmella, Tamina and Lana are not good at ‘beat downs’. Corey and Byron get so bored they start arguing with each other. It’s a nothing match and it doesn’t make sense. The heels all start fighting with each other, for no reason. “It’s a complete mess out here” shoots Byron. Carmella considers cashing in, during the match, and the aimless lumberjack brawling continues. The aim should surely have been to make Ruby look smarter than everyone else here. The outsiders are all ‘wiped out’ by a Charlotte moonsault, which barely wings one of the wrestlers on the floor and Flair retains with the Figure Eight. This was bad. Natalya cuts a bitter and nonsensical promo afterwards to pour salt onto the wound. The crowd rejoicing at her heel tears is quite sad.
Final Rating: *
The Fashion Police vs. The Bludgeon Brothers
The Fashion Police aka Breezango are one of the most over acts in the company even though they never wrestle. It’s a tip of the hat to Vince’s ideas about pro-wrestling being more character driven than about in-ring skill. And to a degree this is true. Their lack of in-ring means nobody cares about their matches though. They just want the Fashion Files. I recently described the Bludgeon Brothers as “Luke Harper and the other one”. There’s nothing memorable about Rowan. The Bludgeon lads are not over at all and this is positioned as a piss break match. The crowd are dead. This is a squash for the Bludgeons and we move on.
Final Rating: ¼*
Video Control does something hilarious by cutting to Sami Zayn and Kevin Owens doing the ‘silent conversation’ thing but then an interviewer cuts in to talk. They were literally mouthing at each other for no reason! What the actual fuck?
The interview itself is fine. Kevin and Sami are a good act. I like the storyline with Shane. I’d like it better if it wasn’t Shane. Dan Bryan, if he was cleared, would have been perfect for it. All hail the Yep Movement!
Shinsuke Nakamura & Randy Orton vs. Kevin Owens & Sami Zayn
If Owens & Zayn lose they’re fired “from all of WWE”. The Owens-Shane storyline seems geared toward a double turn and Owens going on a Steve Austin style Anti-Authority run. The stipulation for this telegraphs the outcome. There’s no way Owens & Zayn are losing. However that takes the focus off the wrestlers and onto Shane and Dan Bryan. Having them both in the ring for the whole match shows what a clusterfuck the authority figures stuff is. Why do we even need a commissioner and a general manager? All this bullshit and Nakamura is once again just hanging around in the background. WWE know he’s good but don’t know what to do with him. Hopefully they do Nakamura-AJ at some point. It was great in NJPW. Orton has sucked all year but it’s been largely due to poor booking. He’s also playing second fiddle here and will probably end up as Shane’s gun for hire next year.
The crowd decide to side with KO and Sami because they’re more interesting. This leads to Orton doing a lot of chinlocks and both authority figures counting pins and shit together. It’s dumb. Overlooked as part of this is the return of Nakamura vs. Zayn, which is lost in the mix after being the MOTY on NXT. It’s astonishing to me how WWE squander the easiest stories for no reason.
The refs end up refereeing one side of the ring each. It’s such a distraction. Much like Corey and Byron bickering on commentary. It’s a pity the match dies a death because there are sequences with Nakamura that make me very excited for potential singles matches against KO and Zayn. Shane’s idiocy extends to not realising Nakamura’s shoulders are down at one point. It’s disgusting babyface bias! Neither Shane nor Bryan do a good job of conveying the story at all. Their authority figure squabbling is an embarrassment. Especially Shane playing cheerleader for Randy. It’s weak. There’s confusion over a broken pin with Orton thinking Bryan did it on purpose, because of their history. It only actually pays off when Shane refuses to count three for Sami Zayn. This gets Dan all pissed off and the crowd finally get into it. Bryan then fast counts Orton down to stick it to the McMahon’s! Listen to the crowd as KO & Sami are celebrating. They might be ‘booked’ as heels but they’re the biggest babyfaces on Smackdown. It interests me that Orton is more upset than Nakamura about the outcome. There was some good character stuff here although the focus is being taken away from the wrestlers too much. Unless Daniel Bryan wrestles again. Then we have a real story. I can’t see it. Definitely need heel Shane vs. mega babyface Owens though. There was almost a turn here but I can see them doing it full blown at ‘Mania.
Final Rating: *3/4
AJ Styles (c) vs. Jinder Mahal
It might have been panic that caused WWE to switch the title to AJ Styles but let’s face it, it could pan out to be a sensational run for him. If he can get by Jinder’s rematch. If he wasn’t so old WWE would definitely go all in on him.
The match is structured slightly differently to the Jinder Standard of ball-achingly long heat with AJ working his leg to give the match focus. Luckily steroids help injuries to heal and Jinder can’t sell a body part for twenty minutes. The match is a drag, despite AJ’s tremendous selling. Jinder’s control segments are so boring that even Styles struggles to make them interesting with his over the top bumps. The match grinds on and on and Mahal just isn’t good enough to be at this level. This is actually one of his better performances but it’s too little, too late. If they’d kept this a tight 12 minuter it might have been worthwhile but at twice that length it’s a drag. The Singhs interfere so AJ murders them. Styles Clash on the floor is a bit excessive isn’t it! AJ kicking out of the Khallas seems to signal that the big Mahal push is over. Top guys don’t get their finishers disrespected when they’re about to continue on top. AJ gets the Calf Killer and his leg work pays off with a tap out. Jinder didn’t want none.
Final Rating: **1/4
A late contender for ‘Worst Major Show’ of 2017. Nothing special at all here. The booking is for future shows, looking past this one. Smackdown is being booked around the authority figures instead of the wrestling, which is resulting in shonky PPV’s. The same as the Attitude Era where it was all about skits and characters so nobody cared when the wrestling happened and the PPV’s sucked. We’re heading that way again and this show is another in a string of creative failures from WWE this year.