KELLER’S WWE CLASH OF CHAMPIONS REPORT 12/17: Styles vs. Mahal, Sami & KO vs. Nakamura & Orton with Shane & Bryan as special refs

By Wade Keller, PWTorch editor


KELLER’S WWE CLASH OF CHAMPIONS PPV REPORT
DECEMBER 17, 2017
BOSTON, MASS. AT TD GARDEN
AIRED LIVE ON WWE NETWORK

KICKOFF SHOW

Panelists: Renee Young, Sam Roberts, David Otunga

-A video package aired on the A.J. Styles vs. Jinder Mahal match. Mahal said he was in the middle of a European Tour and wasn’t feeling his best and Styles took advantage of it. He objected to Jinder saying he is classy because how classy is it to take shortcuts every chance he gets. “I’m going to do it the right way, when he went about it all the wrong ways,” Styles said. Jinder said he won the WWE Championship, not the Singh Brothers, and at the Clash he will regain the throne and his crown. Styles vowed not to lose the championship.

-Charlie Caruso interviewed A.J. Styles backstage. He said he can’t be just good or great, but must be phenomenal because he might have to deal with The Great Khali popping up like a Jack in the Box and the most annoying brothers in the Universe, the Singh Brothers.

-Sam Roberts said the WWE Universe is happier when Styles is WWE Champion. He said Mahal is like Scar in “The Lion King.” Otunga said he’s never cried in a movie before, but that movie almost got him. (What kind person would ever say they’ve never cried in a movie, even if it’s true. It makes them come across as either a liar who can’t admit they’ve been pulled into a sad scene in a movie, or it’s true and they seem repressed and inhuman!) Renee said, “But a win’s a win, right?” (Shame on her. That undercuts all heel heat when someone as nice and reasonable as her endorses the notion that winning is all that counts, not the way you win, because that makes babyfaces seem like suckers for not cheating to win like heels do.)

-The panel discussed the U.S. Title match, including a focus on Bobby Roode. They said he hasn’t shown the Glorious side of himself yet. Sam said those who saw him in NXT are wondering if that version will show up here. Otunga said he’s been good, but nothing more. Sam said Dolph Ziggler has been the litmus test for people arriving in Smackdown to see if they can handle it, but doesn’t want that – he wants to be champion. Otunga picked Baron Corbin. Sam picked Roode because he knows people are talking about him and he needs it.

-They moved to a video package about Breezango vs. The Bludgeon Brothers.

-Caruso interviewed Naomi backstage. Caruso asked her about being Charlotte’s only ally at ringside. Naomi said she and Charlotte are used to being surrounded by “haters.” (Are we still saying that?) She issued a warning to the “Riott Rookies” because if the get in her business again, they will feel the glow. In walked Carmella, Lana, and Tamina. Tamina told her if she doesn’t cross them, they have nothing to worry about. In walked Riott Squad. They began yelling and two referees ran in to push them apart using nothing but their forearms to avoid inappropriate touching.

-A video package aired on the Charlotte vs. Natalya match.

-Charlotte joined the panel. She said she knows what it’s like to be a target. She said the Riott Squad are the biggest threat because of their numbers. In walked Natalya, interrupting Sam. She said it is great to everyone, especially her championship. She told Charlotte she went through TSA one last time with her championship. She asked if she and her dad Ric Flair had one last cry when Facetiming. She smooched Otunga and Sam on their cheeks. She said if she was closer, she’d give Renee a kiss on the cheek, too. Charlotte said she loves her confidence.

-A commercial aired for the new 12 week Facebook weekly show called “Mixed Match Challenge” touting the interactivity aspects of it and showing people watching on mobile phones. It starts Jan. 16 at 10 ET.

-Kayla Braxton interviewed The New Day backstage in the Social Media Lounge. Will they start officially selling New Day branded pancake mix. Kofi said Booty Powder should be delivered swiftly. Xavier said New Day loves to deliver to the people. Next, would becoming five-time WWE Champions be the best Christmas gift. Big E yelled about what he did five years ago today when debuted on the main roster. Kofi and Xavier applauded. When asked about their strategy, Kofi said their opponents could be watching so they’re not saying.

-The panel discussed the the Smackdown Tag Team Title Fatal Four-way. Sam predicted Rusev & Aiden English winning. Otunga picked the Usos.

-A video package aired on the Mojo Rawley turn on Zack Ryder.

Announcers: Tom Phillips, Corey Graves, Byron Saxton.

(A) MOJO RAWLEY vs. ZACK RYDER

Ryder went after Mojo aggressively at the start, to which Phillips said, “Listen to the WWE Universe!” Ryder clotheslined Ryder over the top rope. Graves said this is a new Ryder and maybe Mojo’s attack a blessing in disguise. Mojo shoved Ryder back-first into the ring apron. Ryder came back with a dropkick through the ropes. Back in the ring, Mojo gave Ryder a spinebuster to take over. He settled into a chinlock. Mojo charged at Ryder sitting on the top rope in the corner, and Ryder lifted a knee. Mojo shoved him off the top rope to the floor. Then he charged at him, knocking into the ringside barricade. They cut to a break. [c]

Back live Mojo was in control. Graves said Mojo is showing a killer instinct they haven’t seen before. Mojo trash-talked Ryder and kept asking, “Where is your killer instinct, huh?” Ryder made a brief comeback. Mojo cut it off with a chop block and a running elbow to the side of Ryder’s head for the win. Graves said the rest of the Smackdown roster should take notice because Mojo is for real.

WINNER: Mojo in 7:00.

(Keller’s Analysis: Good match for this stage of the feud and to give Mojo a sense of being threatening as a singles heel wrestler. He had great body language and facial expressions. Ryder wrestled a spirited match to protect his act, even in losing.)

-Renee said her heart hurt watching that. Sam compared Mojo attacking Ryder to Shawn Michaels attacking Marty Jannetty.

-The panel discussed the PPV line-up and closed with a discussion on the main event, including showing tweets from various participants in the match. Otunga said he believes Bryan is trying to protect the integrity of Smackdown. Sam said Shinsuke Nakamura is showing his best self lately and he is amazing. Sam said as good as Nakamura and Orton are, though, he doesn’t think Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn will allow their careers to end tonight.

-They showed the U.S. Title match participants walking backstage in three separate shots. Renee said that’s the first match up on the PPV.

MAIN PPV CARD

-A video package aired on the Clash of Champions, focusing on what championships mean and then the stakes in the main event tag match.

1 — BARON CORBIN vs. BOBBY ROODE vs. DOLPH ZIGGLER – U.S. Title match

They showed Ziggler interrupting Roode vs. Corbin, and then the next week Roode attacking Ziggler vs. Corbin. Roode came out first, then Ziggler, and finally Corbin. They went to the Spanish announce team to get some camera time. Then the German team. Calvin Knee and Tim Harbor. Graves said, “I’d like to congratulate Calvin on his 11th birthday.” That got some chuckles.

When the bell rang, Roode and Ziggler went after Corbin aggressively. They clotheslined him over the ringside barricade. Roode then went after Ziggler. He scored a two count in the ring, but Ziggler tossed him to the floor seconds later where Corbin caught him with a running clothesline. He popped Ziggler when he reached through the ropes, then threw Roode into the ringside barricade.

They took turns for several minutes trading one-on-one sequences and near falls, broken up by the third wrestler. Roode blocked a Zig Zag as Corbin distracted Roode. Roode then leaped off the top rope, but Ziggler avoided him and hit the Fameasser for a near fall broken up by Corbin. Phillips listed Ziggler’s title reigns. Graves said he has a resume longer than Byron’s list to Santa.

Roode rallied against both opponents, but Corbin surprised Roode with a Deep Six for a believable near fall. The announcers acknowledged people questioned whether Ziggler should have been added to this match. Everyone was slow to get up after that. A “Bobby Roode!” chant broke out. When Ziggler went for a superplex on Roode, Corbin entered and powerbombed them both onto the mat. Corbin scored a two count on Ziggler. He covered Roode next and got a two count. Fans chanted “This is awesome!” Corbin charged at Ziggler, but Ziggler moved and went shoulder-first into the ringpost. Ziggler then fired up and stomped the mat to totally telegraph his move. Roode avoided it and gave Ziggler a spinebuster. He then twirled and riled up the crowd who yelled “Glorious” on cue. When he went for a Glorious DDT, he paid for playing to the crowd like an idiot, as Ziggler recovered enough to avoid it and DDT’d Roode for a near fall.

Corbin rejoined the action, but Roode ducked when he charged. Ziggler then went for a superkick, but Roode ducked and catapulted Ziggler into the top turnbuckle. Then he hit a Glorious DDT. Corbin tried to interfere, but Roode threw him to ringside. Roode made the cover. Corbin yanked him out of the ring by his legs to break up the pin. Corbin then gave Roode a backbreaker at ringside. “This is awesome!” rang out again briefly. Corbin set up an End of Days, but Ziggler gave Corbin a Zig Zag from behind and scored the three count.

WINNER: Ziggler in 13:00. (***1/4)

(Keller’s Analysis: Really good match. Let’s see Ziggler actually do something significant with this reign. If he stops yelling about losing and not getting the push he says he deserves and just starts having good matches (and doesn’t YELL for no reason about it), he can be a valuable roster member at a higher level. I am not a fan of babyface wrestlers losing opportunities to win because they’re posturing to the crowd to get their cute little routines in that fans eat up. It’s one thing if it works out, but if it backfires, like it did against Roode, it makes him seem like an undisciplined fool.)

-Daniel Bryan asked a backstage worker to find him a smaller referee shirt because that one looked like it was made for Earthquake. Shane McMahon walked in and said his fits. He said Sami and Ko were supposed to be gone, but Bryan interjected himself. Then he has made himself a second special guest referee and he wanted to know what is going through his head. Bryan said he’s trying to protect the integrity of Smackdown and protect Shane from himself. Shane took a deep breath and admitted he has a grudge and is a bit of a hot head. Shane asked if Bryan plans to be at ringside. Bryan said he plans to be inside the ring. Shane said that is unprecedented, and asked how it will work. Bryan said he has an idea, but it should be discussed in private.

-Charlie Caruso interviewed Corbin about his loss. She said some people are saying he is the master of squandering opportunities having lost his MITB briefcase and now the U.S. Title. He said Ziggler stole it, and he’ll pay when he takes his belt back.

(2) THE USOS vs. AIDEN ENGLISH & RUSEV vs. SHELTON BENJAMIN & CHAD GABLE vs. THE NEW DAY – Fatal Four-way for the Smackdown Tag Team Championship

The crowd popped for English & Rusev, chanting “Rusev Day!” and popping for English’s “12 Days of Rusev” performance. Shelton & Gable came out second. New Day came out tossing around pancakes. Xavier played the trombone. The Usos then came out fourth and cut a promo on their way to the ring. Xavier then handed out pancakes to fans in the front row. Saxton said he hoped they were buttermilk with pecans in them, and then wanted sugar and syrup.

After some early brawling, Shelton tossed Uso off the top rope with an overhead suplex. Big E broke up Shelton’s pin attempt. When New Day began clowning around, Rusev kicked Kofi in the face and then made a cover on Jimmy Uso. Fans chanted “Rusev Day!” English sang as he had Uso in a chinlock. Gable, elsewhere in the ring, had an armlock on Kofi. Graves said Tom Brody doesn’t even have his own day in Boston.

Several minutes later the Usos rallied against Shelton and Gable. Gable came back with a Texas Cloverleaf on Jey Usos. Shelton kept everyone out of the ring. He powerbombed Kofi when he flew into the ring. English face planted Shelton at ringside. Rusev broke up Gable’s hold. Fans cheered. English slammed Gable for a two count. Rusev then put Gable in the Accolade mid-ring. Big E broke it up and the crowd booed. Big E then lifted Rusev. Chaos broke out before New Day could do a double-team move. Rusev caught Big E with his kick for a two count. Rusev stood and showed fire. He stomped on Big E’s back and applied the Accolade again. Big E nearly stood and powered out, but Rusev sat back down on him. Gable entered and back suplexed Rusev out of the hold. English entered, but Gable gave him a high angle rolling German suplex. Gable then rolled up Big E and gave him another rolling German suplex. He showed fire and yelled out to the crowd. When he went for one on an Uso, the other Uso blind-tagged in and they took Gable down and landed a top rope splash for the win.

WINNERS: The Usos to retain the Smackdown Tag Team Titles in 12:00. (**3/4)

(Keller’s Analysis: Chaotic, and a little clunky in the middle, but there were a lot of crowd-pleasing spots that kept them engaged. Rusev & English were the most popular team in this match, based on crowd reaction.)

(3) CHARLOTTE vs. NATALYA – Lumberjack Match for the Smackdown Women’s Championship

The lumberjacks ring entrances took place: Naomi, Ruby Riott, Liv Morgan, Sarah Logan, Carmella, Lana, and Tamina. Then Natalya, the challenger. And finally Charlotte, the champion. They locked up when the bell rang. When Charlotte sent Natalya to the floor, Naomi stomped on her before throwing her back into the ring. Graves called it a cheap shot and asked where the honor was. The heel lumberjacks took their shots at Charlotte before shoving her back into the ring. Natalya kept sending Charlotte to the floor to take a beating, and Byron said this is just cheap. Natalya grounded Charlotte with a sleeper mid-ring.

Charlotte broke free, but Natalya hit her with a basement dropkick next. When Charlotte avoided Natalya, and Natalya fell to the floor, heel women at ringside gently rolled her back into the ring. Charlotte rallied and strutted. When Charlotte went for a figure-four, Natalya kicked her to the floor. A big brawl broke out among all of the lumberjacks at ringside. Naomi springboarded herself onto the crowd at ringside. Natalya went after Charlotte in the ropes. As the ref pulled Natalya away, Tamina kicked Charlotte. Natalya then applied the Sharpshooter mid-ring. Charlotte reached the ropes.

The heel lumberjacks yanked Charlotte to the floor. Another brawl broke out with all of them. Phillips said it was a mess. Graves said he loves it. Byron said he would. Carmella entered with the MITB briefcase. Riott attacked her. A brawl broke out in the ring and then they brawled to the floor seconds later. Charlotte threw Natalya to the floor where she got into the fray. Charlotte then leaped off the top rope with a moonsuit into the crowd at ringside. She essentially landed on the floor on her feet, but everyone tipped over like bowling balls. Natalya threw Charlotte into the ringpost.

Natalya threw Charlotte back into the ring. Phillips said it might just be a matter of time. As Natalya went for a sharpshooter, Charlotte countered into the figure-four and then into the Figure-Eight. Natalya tapped out pretty quickly.

WINNER: Charlotte in 11:00 to retain the Smackdown Women’s Championship. (**1/2)

(Keller’s Analysis: This was more about the lumberjacks than a cohesive one-on-one match, but that doesn’t mean it didn’t work out as an entertaining match.)

-In a post-match interview in the ring, Dasha Fuentes asked Natalya what went wrong. Natalya said Charlotte has relied on her family name to get ahead, yet she has carried the division for ten years. She said the fans have treated her with nothing but respect. She began to choke up a little as she said, “The WWE Universe wants to turn their back on me? Well, now I’m turing my back on all of you!” She threw the mic down and left. It wasn’t clear what was happening. She rolled to the floor and began to sob at ringside. The crowd sang the “Na na na na, good bye” song.

-Dasha Fuentes knocked on the locker room door of Jinder Mahal. Out walked the Singh Brothers. They said he was in deep meditation mode preparing for his match and cannot be disturbed. They said Jinder heard Styles’s foolish words during the Clash Kick-off show. They said he had a hearty Punjabi laugh. They said Styles is mistaken if he thinks he’ll defy the odds. They said Jinder is so confident, he doesn’t need their help tonight. When Caruso asked if that means they won’t be at ringside, they told her they’ll have to watch to find out.

-They showed more of the announce teams.

(4) BREEZANGO vs. THE BLUDGEON BROTHERS

Breeze and Fandango worked over Rowan early, but Rowan caught Breeze at ringside. Fandango threw Rowan toward the ringpost, but Rowan blocked it. Harper then clotheslined Breeze at ringside. Rowan threw Fandango back into the ring and gave him their double-team finisher for the win.

WINNERS: The Bludgeon Brothers in 2:00.

-Afterward in the ring, Rowan said the future holds more bludgeoning and pain and fear and “the end of the beginning” and “the beginning of the end.” The crowd gave them the “What?!” treatment.

-A commercial aired for Raw tomorrow night with the return of Brock Lesnar.

-Fuentes interviewed KO and Sami backstage. KO said they know why Bryan made himself the second special guest referee. Sami said he is the only reasonable thing about Smackdown Live. They were a little too gleeful about Bryan’s involvement. KO said Shane has a clear history of screwing himself over when he is special guest referee in his matches, including ruining his opportunity to take his U.S. Title from him. He said Bryan knows that Sami is A+ talent and all he’s doing is making sure tonight is a fair fight. He said the Sami & Kevin Show isn’t getting cancelled anytime soon. Sami said, “And more importantly, the Yep Movement rages on.” Fuentes asked what if they don’t win and are fired. Owens and Sami acted disgusted with the very question. They stared her down, shook their hears, sneered, and left.

-A commercial aired for the Royal Rumble.

-A video package aired on the tag match coming up next.

(5) KEVIN OWENS & SAMI ZAYN vs. SHINSUKE NAKAMURA & RANDY ORTON – Shane McMahon and Daniel Bryan are special referees, if KO & Sami lose they are fired from WWE

Shane came out first. Then Bryan to loud “Yes!” chants from the fans. Then Shinsuke came out followed by Orton, and finally KO & Sami together. The “Olé” song broke out early for Sami and he and Orton battled. Bryan and Shane each tried to count a pin by Orton. They argued a bit. Graves said the pins weren’t even on the same pace. When Orton went for a cover again on Owens a few minutes later, both refs counted again. Bryan and Shane verbally agreed to cover separate halves of the ring. The next cover by Owens was on Shane’s side. Owens complained Shane didn’t count fast enough. Graves said the count seemed sluggish to him. Owens complained to Bryan about Shane. Sami tagged in and grounded Orton.

Nakamura eventually tagged in and took it to Owens. Graves said Shane seems disappointed when Owens kicked out before three. Byron said he might be disappointed, but he’s going to be fair about it. Nakamura applied a triangle, but his shoulders were down. Bryan counted Nakamura’s shoulders down, but Shane was upset because it was a near submission. Owens then superkciked Nakamura for a near fall. Owens tagged Sami back in. Sami hit a Blue Thunder Bomb for a two count.

When Orton knocked Bryan off balance on the top rope, Bryan crotched himself. Bryan told Orton, “That’s not legal.” It’s not? Orton then superplexed SamiKO yanked Orton out of the ring and threw him into the ringside steps. Nakamura went after KO at ringside. Shane told them to get it back in the ring. Instead, Sami and KO attacked Nakamura at ringside. Shane agin told them to bring it back into the ring. Instead, KO and Sami cleared an announce table. Shane inadvertently poked Bryan in the eye at ringside. It was barely picked up by the camera. Graves pointed it out. Owens then leaped off of one table and splash Nakamura through the table. Both were slow to get up.

Back in the ring Orton snap powerslammed Sami. Bryan and Shane were both back in the ring refereeing. Orton gave Sami a DDT off the middle rope. Orton played to the crowd for a while. He pounded the mat. Then came an RKO. Orton sat up with satisfaction as he made the cover. Shane began his count, but Owens shoved Bryan into Shane. Shane thought Bryan broke up the count. He yelled, “What are you doing? That was going to be three!” Bryan didn’t
explain himself for some reason. He just sat there to get yelled at. Orton eyed Bryan. He stood up and backed Bryan into the corner. Owens came up behind Orton. Orton gave Owens an RKO. Orton then walked over to Sami. Sami rolled up Orton. They alternated two counts with Bryan and Shane each counting as the small package was reversed over and over. When Sami rolled up Orton, Shane stopped his count at two. The fans booed. Bryan chewed him out. Shane said it was to get back at Bryan for what happened earlier. They shoved each other and went face to face. A loud “Yes!” chant broke out. Orton then went for an RKO, but Sami instead rolled him up. bryan made a very fast three count which Shane was a split second late breaking up.

WINNER: Owens & Sami in 22:00. (**1/2)

(Keller’s Analysis: As with the Women’s Title match earlier, which was all about the lumberjacks, this was a tag match that was all about the special referees. It played out between Bryan and Shane well in that it satisfied the build-up that Shane had a favorite, but wasn’t willing to compromise his integrity to get a certain outcome unless he felt Bryan was being unfair. The biggest flaw here is Bryan sat there so long being chewed out by Shane without explaining what happened. The action was besides the point, but it was okay, if not a little sluggishly paced at times.)

(6) A.J. STYLES vs. JINDER MAHAL (w/The Singh Brother)

Phillips pointed out Jinder is 5-0 in PPV title matches. It sounded like there was an “A.J. Styles! / Let’s Go Jinder!” battle chant. Is this is the moment the battle chants jumped the shark? Styles controlled early. Jinder took over, beat up Styles at ringside including throwing him into the time keepers area, and then had sustained methodical control in the ring. Graves pointed out that he hasn’t had any help from the Singh Brothers and he is proving he is a main event player. Mahal leaped off the second rope, but Styles caught him with a dropkick in his first sign of life in a while. Mahal rolled to ringside as Styles recovered more in the ring.

Styles met Mahal at ringside and punch him, then threw him back its the ring. Styles springboarded, but Mahal knocked him off balance. Mahal gave Styles a gut buster for a two count. Styles came back with an electric chair out of the corner. Both were slow to get up. When they stood, Styles won a battle of rapid-fire strikes. Styles hit a running clothesline/splash in the corner. He tried to lift Mahal, but couldn’t, still selling his ribs. He did hit a backbreaker next for a two count. Jinder came back and scored a two count on Styles. Graves said, “You can’t not be impressed by Jinder Mahal tonight. The growth he’s shown as a competitor cannot be underestimated.” This sounded heavy-handed, either to set up Jinder losing with some credibility afterward or even laying a foundation for a babyface turn. Styles came back with a Pelé kick. Jinder shoved Styles hard into the corner. Mahal threw him hard out of the corner and then landed a boot to the face for a near fall.

Both were slow to get up. Styles landed a springboard 450 splash. Graves said Styles couldn’t make the cover due to his ribs being so injured. The Singh Brothers grabbed Mahal’s legs and tried to drag him to the floor. Styles dove onto the Singh Brothers at ringside. He gave one of them a Styles Clash at ringside. When Styles re-entered the ring with a springboard. Jinder ducked and then kneed Styles in the back. He then gave him the Khallas. Styles kicked out at the last second. An “A.J. Styles” chant broke out. Jinder was seething mad as he stood up. He set up a Styles Clash of his own, but Styles countered and then rolled into a Calf Crusher mid-ring. Mahal struggled, but Styles leaned more into it. Mahal eventually tapped out (47 minutes into the third hour of the PPV). Graves said this was a battle anyone will forget for a long time. “Respect to Jinder Mahal for bringing the big fight,” Graves said before complimenting Styles. Phillips said Styles holds above his head the same championship worn by Bruno Sammartino, Undertaker, and The Rock.

WINNER: Styles via tapout in 23:00. (***)

(Keller’s Analysis: It was good, but not great. It didn’t hit four stars despite ample time to do it. I’m really glad it concluded the show because, even though the hype for it came up short compared to the hype for the Shane/Bryan stuff, the World Title should almost always be the final featured attraction at a PPV to protect the image that it’s what everyone is fighting for.)

2 Comments on KELLER’S WWE CLASH OF CHAMPIONS REPORT 12/17: Styles vs. Mahal, Sami & KO vs. Nakamura & Orton with Shane & Bryan as special refs

  1. Jinder would have made a Great heel in the Hogan ear. He has that slow, methodical style. But not in this era. It just doesn’t work. You want to like him, just because they are doing something else- but it doesn’t work.

    • You are very right… I am one who hated Jinder and wanted him to be built up much more… To be honest, he has grown on me, yet still the ceiling is low and I think he needs a credible war for the US title and a run there, possibly that will help him climb to the level that this time was just given to him…One last thing, AJ Styles is a real phenomenal wrestler, I would put him in the same level as a Brett Hart-Shawn Michaels territory, and yes, He is that Phenominal…

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