The next WWE pay-per-view event (and last of 2017) is the Smackdown PPV named Clash of Champions that takes place in Boston on December 17. The theme of the show is every title is on the line and Smackdown has four titles, so all of them are up for grabs. Here’s the lineup with some early predictions for the matches.
WWE Championship: AJ Styles vs. Jinder Mahal
I think Styles would retain. No reason to put the title back on Mahal. His reign as champion lasted nearly six months and I don’t think he was hot enough as champion to get it back. Having this match main event the PPV is fine, but it also doesn’t feel like a huge match because Styles retaining is the likely outcome. I really hope Styles carries the WWE Title all the way to WrestleMania because he deserves to be in one of the biggest matches even though Raw’s Universal Championship match (likely Lesnar vs. Reigns) will probably main event.
Sami Zayn & Kevin Owens vs. Randy Orton & Shinsuke Nakamura (Shane McMahon is referee. If Zayn and Owens lose, they are fired.)
It wouldn’t surprise me if this match goes on last because of the star power and the stipulation.
Zayn and Owens should win this match. The firing tease was done by Shane McMahon at the end of Smackdown when he said not only will Zayn and Owens be fired from Smackdown, but from all of WWE. As I wrote in my Smackdown review, I think GM Daniel Bryan or Shane are going to turn heel to help Zayn and Owens win. That means either Bryan does something like a chair shot to Orton or Nakamura with Shane out of position or Shane helps the heels win as the ref. There’s going to be a twist here. The match should be great and it’s not a new match because they have headlined Smackdown before with this match. They’re all good performers, though, so I’m looking forward to it. I’ve been disappointed that Nakamura hasn’t had a bigger role on Smackdown in the last few months, though.
Fatal 4-Way Smackdown Tag Team Championships: The Usos vs. The New Day vs. Chad Gable & Shelton Benjamin vs. Rusev & Aiden English
Here’s how the rules are explained on WWE.com: “There will be four Superstars in the ring at all times until there’s a pinfall or a submission and each competitor is only able to tag their partner.”
That’s going to be chaotic. I would rather see them do an elimination match where it goes from four teams to three to two and then the winners get the final fall. That leads to a more dramatic match. By doing it this way, it’s going to be a shorter match. I think a title change is very possible since WWE loves booking title changes for these titles and I’m leaning towards The New Day as the new champs (again) because there have been rumors that WWE wants them to have the most Tag Title reigns ever (nine) and if they win here that would be five. I can certainly change my mind on that next week.
Smackdown Women’s Championship Lumberjack Match: Charlotte Flair vs. Natalya
This should be Charlotte retaining the title she won a few weeks ago on Smackdown. I think they are building to Ruby Riott as the next contender since she pinned Charlotte in the tag match last week. Charlotte wins this, Ruby and friends attack post match, which sets up the title match showdown probably at January’s Royal Rumble.
United States Championship: Baron Corbin vs. Bobby Roode vs. Dolph Ziggler
There’s not much of a story here other than the title being on the line. Ziggler attacked both guys on Smackdown to show that he belongs in the title picture. Might as well keep the title on Corbin. No reason for him to lose it, but I can see Roode winning it early next year.
That’s five matches so far. I think they will add Zack Ryder vs. Mojo Rawley since they just broke up as a tag team last week. I figured they would have some sort of brawl this week, but all we got was a Rawley promo and Ryder wasn’t on the show. I thought Ryder did a great job with this tweet, though.
— Zack Ryder (@ZackRyder) December 6, 2017
If they add Ryder vs. Rawley that would be six matches. Most PPVs have seven matches on the main card, so they would likely add another to make it a full card. There is one more Smackdown episode before Clash of Champions.
In Other News
– Roman Reigns was interviewed on WWE Network and I covered it for With Spandex. Reigns had some interesting comments including his opinion on where he ranks in the wrestling business as an in-ring performer.
“You know, I’m the best performer in-ring in the world right now. You can go to my matches and my pay-per-views over the last three years and you can say I’m an idiot [for thinking that] or you can be like, ‘Man, he’s got a point.’ You know what I mean? I didn’t come here for any other reason.”
As you might expect, Reigns’ comments have fired people up. My Facebook and Twitter have been going off with people reacting to it. I don’t agree with him at all and would rank AJ Styles, Kenny Omega and Kazuchika Okada as the best in the world in-ring, but there’s nothing wrong with Reigns having confidence. He’s the top guy in WWE that has headlined the last three WrestleManias and he’s still early in his career. I also think that Reigns is better than his haters think, but probably not as good as he thinks.
Check out Reigns’ full interview on WWE Network “Straight to the Source” hosted by Corey Graves now. The interview is 15 minutes and it’s pretty good.
– There’s a new episode of WWE NXT tonight on WWE Network at 8pmET. Here’s what is advertised on WWE.com:
The NXT Championship celebration for Andrade “Cien” Almas and Zelina Vega
Ruby Riott vs. Sonya Deville in a No Holds Barred match
Kassius Ohno vs. Velveteen Dream
Killian Dain vs. Trent Seven
That should make for an interesting show. I’m very intrigued by the Riott vs. Deville match, which is likely their NXT farewell since Riott is on Smackdown and Deville is on Raw now. Our NXT guy Kurt Zamora will have a review up later tonight or tomorrow.
– Total Divas is on tonight at 9pmET on E Network. Here’s the synopsis for this week’s episode:
“Lana hosts a Name Day party for Rusev in Nashville but isn’t ready to give him what he really wants as a present. Nattie buys her parents a house, but soon realizes they are the tenants from hell. Meanwhile, the Bellas miss the adrenaline rush of wrestling and try to find a fix to replace it.”
Sounds riveting! That’s what I would say if I worked for WWE. Since I don’t, I can say I’ll be watching a busy night of NBA action instead while hoping for continued great success with my Draftkings lineups. Here’s a preview clip.
– WWE Hall of Famer Bret Hart is suing a doctor in Calgary named Dr. Justin Yeung for $1 million for botching Bret’s wrist surgery in 2015. Here’s more info from the Calgary Sun:
“In 1981, while performing as a professional wrestler, Mr. Hart injured his right wrist by chipping his scaphoid,” one of eight small bones in the wrist, the document says.
In 2015, Hart visited plastic surgeon Dr. Justin Yeung. “Dr. Yeung advised Mr. Hart that he could perform surgery to repair his right wrist by a partial fusion of the wrist bones,” the lawsuit says.
On Nov. 23, 2015, Hart underwent surgery at the Peter Lougheed Centre. About six weeks later, Hart returned to Yeung to have three pins removed and complained about ongoing swelling and pain, as well as the fact his index finger and thumb “did not function.”
“Dr. Yeung responded to Mr. Hart that he should wait and see how he healed.” But during visits in March, April and August of 2016, Hart continued to report severe pain and lack of mobility, the claim says.
The document goes on to note that Hart is “unable to use his right hand to pick up and functionally use objects, including pens, pencils, eating utensils and tools. He is unable to properly dress himself without assistance.”
It sucks reading that because as a fan of Bret Hart I don’t want to see him deal with that, but if he feels like this doctor lied about how he could help him then he has every right to sue.
The Video Section
The Usos did a must-see promo about how they want to wrestle The Shield. It’s really great stuff in under two minutes. It’s so cool to see how well these two have improved this year in terms of their heel personas and confidence delivering promos.
Vince McMahon fired Eric Bischoff as the GM of Raw one year ago yesterday back in 2005. Bischoff started as GM of Raw in July 2002 (to the surprise of most people) and had a good 3+ year run as the evil boss. The entire segment with Bischoff getting fired was very entertaining and took up nearly half of Raw that week.
In Case You Missed It
I wrote a detailed review of Smackdown last night. Here are three more takes on what happened:
– Sami Zayn is really turning into an amazing heel. I hope he gets a main event push in the role. He has headlined Smackdown several times since the heel turn, so it can be argued that he is in the main event role already, but I mean in terms of challenging for the WWE Championship and winning it. A few months ago I was so frustrated with how WWE booked him as a face and I didn’t expect the heel turn. As it turns out, he’s arguably an even better performer as a heel.
– Rusev and Aiden English have done a fantastic job of getting the ball and running with it as they say in the business. The “Rusev Day” thing was done as a joke to try to give Rusev something unique to him and now they are in the Tag Team Title picture where they belong. I’m happy for both guys, especially English, because he’s been in the WWE system for about six years and he continues to improve every time I see him. Plus, he’s a great singer too. The duo always cracks me up and they are good in the ring too. More please.
– The segments with the women’s division were not as good as the last two weeks. The Riott Squad trio were not booked in a dominant fashion the way Raw’s three heel women (Paige, Mandy Rose and Sonya Deville) have been, so that hurt them a bit. I’m also not a huge fan of a Lumberjack Match at Clash of Champions, but at least it is different.
Since I mentioned Bret Hart earlier, here’s my favorite Bret promo ever from March 17, 1997 when he went on a tirade. It was so unlike him and hearing him say “bullshit” was a big deal back then. It would be a big deal today too. It just felt like the scathing heel promo you didn’t expect from him, so it always stands out because it was perfect at the time. Vince McMahon was also great on commentary during this segment too. Hart was also interrupted by Steve Austin, which led to their WrestleMania 13 match that is one of my favorite matches ever.
Thanks for reading. Shoot me a message on Twitter @johnreport with any thoughts/comments on this and any ideas you may have for this column. I’ll be back tomorrow for more.