WWE Clash of Champions
December 17, 2017
TD Garden
Boston, Massachusetts

Watch: WWE Network 

Meet our Previewers:

  • Andrew Sinclair: The Kris Kringle of VOW, Andrew is writing this as an escape mechanism from his impending exams. If you want tips on hibernation, darts or student journalism, follow along on Twitter at @AMSinclair97.
  • Lawson Leong: Comedian, philosopher and lariat enthusiast. Is mostly in this for The Usos and Chad Gable. Co-host of the Talking Smark podcast, writer of the “Match of the Month” column on this very site. If you would like to follow/support his stand up comedy, you can visit his website at Lawsonleong.com
  • August Baker: This is the 8th WWE PPV in a row August has previewed. He ranks this 5th in life accomplishments. Learn the top four on Twitter @augustbaker12.

Pre-Show: Mojo Rawley vs Zack Ryder

Andrew Sinclair: Having been teasing a break-up of the Hype Bros since Zack’s return, I was pleased to see them finally pull the trigger on it in an effective way. Now, don’t get me wrong, I don’t think Mojo has a high ceiling as a singles star, but if they’re going to break them up and give him his shot, this time of the year is the right time to do it. They definitely see more in Mojo than I do, and that means he’s winning here. Just think, at Fastlane we might get a Bobby Roode vs Mojo Intercontinental Title match! Prediction: Mojo Rawley

Lawson Leong: I look around at the things the Elite and NWA are doing online to get themselves over, and sadly gaze on the sad state of affairs that is Zack Ryder. He could be credited with being the first to do such a thing. And yet here he is, almost certainly losing to Mojo Rawley on the pre-show. I don’t see much ceiling room for Mojo in the modern era of pro wrestling, and I don’t see how he can maintain this character as a heel. Hopefully he debuts a new finish as he’s never had one that was any good. Prediction: Mojo Rawley

August Baker: I can’t think of any reason this match is worth having. Zack Ryder is a non-entity and Mojo is a dud. But as long as Mojo has famous friends, he will no doubt grace us with his presence and win these unimportant lower card feuds. Prediction: Mojo Rawley

Breezango vs The Bludgeon Brothers

Andrew Sinclair: I really wish they had something more for Fandango and Tyler to do, because they are by far and away the most consistently entertaining element of Smackdown and could have done a job with the tag titles earlier in the year. The Bludgeon Brothers gimmick sucks but they are a serviceable team and this should be their first big win since being repackaged. In an ideal world I’d love this to get a good bit of time, but given the overbooking across the rest of the card, that’s exceptionally unlikely. Prediction: Bludgeon Brothers

Lawson Leong: Does anyone else think of the Hammer Bros when they see Harper and Rowan? Breezango are more SNL characters than wrestlers at this point so no use in them beating anybody. I very much enjoy Luke Harper and hopefully this gimmick sticks for a while because all these repackages and turns have dizzied me. Counter to my above previewer I actually hope this is a short and emphatic squash. Prediction: The Bludgeon Brothers

August Baker: The Bludgeon Brothers remind me of EVIL in New Japan. Goofy ass costumes with silly prop weapons who are taking themselves way too seriously. With Cesaro being featured on Raw every week, Luke Harper is proudly wearing the “Most Underutilized” championship belt. I imagine Harper and Rowan will challenge for the tag titles soon, so they should get a pretty easy win here. Prediction: The Bludgeon Brothers

WWE Smackdown Tag Team Championships
The Usos (c) vs The New Day vs Chad Gable & Shelton Benjamin vs Rusev Day

Andrew Sinclair: Normally I’d rag all over a multi-team match like this, but Smackdown haven’t done one like this in ages, and it makes at least a semblance of sense. The Usos felt too early in their reign to lose to Gable & Benjamin, but having them beat them again would have left them more or less in limbo. Rusev and English, I’m calling them Rusev Day and it will stick, are very entertaining and putting the straps on them as a quickie change over the next couple of months wouldn’t be the worst booking in the world. Given the talent involved and the overbooking elsewhere on the show, this is going to be the match of the night. In my fantasy booking universe, Big E turns on Kofi and Xavier at the Rumble, so giving them the straps would be a poor move. Heart says Rusev Day. Head says Usos ahead of an eventual match with the Bludgeon Brothers. Prediction: The Usos

Lawson Leong: This is what drew me to the preview, as having Rusev, Gable and The Usos all in one match peaks this show early for me. It’s funny how in WWE almost every fatal fourway match is won by the defending champions, even though they constantly tell us they only have a “25% chance” of retaining. The only team I could see sneaking away with the straps besides The Usos are Rusev/English, but I don’t expect it. Give me Usos vs Harper/Rowan, I’m ready for it. Prediction: The Usos

August Baker: This is the last Smackdown PPV until March 11. Unless the Royal Rumble is five hours long, and I’m not ruling that out, it is unlikely the Smackdown Tag Team Championships will be defended at the event. So there is a whole lot of television time to kill before the next marquee tag match. Which is why I’m going to go out on a limb here and pick a surprise winner. A tag title change here will keep the Uso’s busy on TV for a while while the Bludgeon Brother’s pick up a few more wins to set up a major match down the road. Prediction: Rusev Day

WWE United States Championship
Baron Corbin (c) vs Bobby Roode vs Dolph Ziggler

Andrew Sinclair: Although I’d admit to being a basher of the triple threat formula, and multi-man matches in general for that matter, this match particularly annoys. The reason for that? Dolph Ziggler. It’s been a long time since he’s felt relevant or in any way compelling, and how his gimmick made it off the drawing board and on to TV I will never know. They’ve given us no reason to care about this match, so why should we? Roode will probably beat Corbin eventually, possibly at the Rumble, and adding Dolph smacks of giving Corbin another defence whilst meaning Roode doesn’t have to eat the pin. Prediction: Baron Corbin

Lawson Leong: “Why am I in this match? Because I’m a 2 time world champion (insert more brass rings here)…”- Dolph Ziggler. That promo infuriated me. It made no sense. We all know he’s here to get pinned. This is the type of match you should have on television, not on a PPV. How are we supposed to care about this title when it’s booked so transparently? It does no one any favors. Prediction: Baron Corbin pins Dolph Ziggler

August Baker: Bobby Roode will be United States champion at some point. Roode isn’t much of a babyface, but his entrance pops the crowd and no one else in the Smackdown midcard gets cheered. While I agree with my fellow reviewers that the sole purpose of the triple threat is to give Corbin an out, I think Roode wins here. Corbin can whine and complain that it wasn’t a fair match and so on and so forth. Like I said before, there’s a lot of TV time coming up, and this should keep the Smackdown midcard busy. Prediction: Bobby Roode

WWE Smackdown Women’s Championship – Lumberjack Match
Charlotte (c) vs Natalya

Andrew Sinclair: Lumberjack matches are inherently awful. That’s not up for debate. This will be no different. The Riott Squad (who comes up with these names honestly) will probably get the upper hand over Charlotte and there’ll be the inevitable “Lumberjacks go wild” spot and much like the episodes of Raw and Smackdown this week, things will inevitably descend into the whole roster fights the new girls. Charlotte’s on the event poster, so she won’t be losing but could this be where Carmella finally cashes in? Unlikely, but I wouldn’t bet against it in the near future. Prediction: Charlotte

Lawson Leong: Hiroshi Tanahashi vs Prince Devitt. Dean Ambrose vs Seth Rollins. These are the only two good Lumberjack matches in history. This will not be the third. My fellow previewer above nailed the formula for these matches. The only possible intrigue for this match is whether Carmella cashes in. It’s a shame, because Natalya and Charlotte have had numerous good to great matches with each other, and I’d say their chemistry is underrated by many. But this stipulation is only a hindrance. Also, this stip made the Riott Squad go from invaders to just a bunch of gals. On the bright side, Naomi looked great in her comeback on Smackdown, maybe she’ll jump on everybody. Prediction: Charlotte

August Baker: Charlotte vs the Riott Squad is where this division is heading, and this is merely a stepping stone to getting there. This match will be all about the chicancery, and be like every other lumberjack match we’ve seen. The Riott squad on the outside, being the enemies of everyone, provides the only real drama of the match. Personally, I would have Ruby and friends run wild until Becky Lynch returns. In any case, it’s extremely unlikely Natalya walks out of here with the title. Prediction: Charlotte

Randy Orton and Shinsuke Nakamura vs Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn
Special Guest Referees: Shane McMahon and Daniel Bryan

Andrew Sinclair: Two special guest referees. Are you for real Road Dogg? If this had been a standard two-on-two tag match, I’d be all over it. Ok, Orton isn’t having a tremendous year, but when he’s motivated he can still pull it out of the bag and this is a fairly star-studded match. Zayn is surprisingly great as a heel and I eagerly await the moment KO turns on him again, giving us another match between these two career rivals. But it’s not a standard tag match, it’s an overbooked mess. I don’t want to think about it. Kevin and Sami could lose and end up on RAW, but that would leave Smackdown even more bereft than it is already. They will win, and either Daniel or Shane is turning heel, which means the show will stop being about the wrestlers and start being about AUTHORITY figures again. Woop-de-do! Prediction: Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn

Lawson Leong: As great a heel as Sami has been, it’s clear they’re never really going to push this man. It’s not like he’s been winning matches since he’s turned. This whole thing is just all about Shane and I can’t stand it. The match itself may be quite good actually, but will surely be disrupted with ref bumps and angles. It’s almost guaranteed to be a mess. Are they going to turn Bryan heel, as a way to cool him off before he leaves? Who knows. The result of this may be intriguing but if Shane continues to be the focus my eyes will roll hard. Prediction: Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn

August Baker: I guess I’m the only one who kinda sorta maybe likes the concept of this match. While yes, it’s another McMahon story angle, everyone has been playing their roles to perfection, and I really appreciate that. A special shout out has to go to Sami Zayn. I never would have predicted Sami would make a good heel, but his goofy ass dancing in Shane’s face has to be more demeaning than any number of powerbombs Owens can deliver. This match is all about the story, so if people were expecting a great match, I get the disappointment of the stipulations. I’m just hoping they can keep telling a decent story and keep the principle characters working in shades of grey. If this just leads to Bryan, Owens, and Zayn becoming eeeeevil, then consider everything I said invalid and listen to my fine co-previewers instead.

WWE Championship
AJ Styles (C) vs Jinder Mahal

Andrew Sinclair: The irony of giving Jinder a massive push, only to have him lose to Triple H in India is overwhelmingly hilarious. WWE will have taken notice that the experiment didn’t work, they had to cancel half the tour for goodness’ sake, and this will be Jinder’s last match near the main event for a very long time. Their match on Smackdown was much better than I expected, but I put most of that down to AJ, as well as the pop of him winning and Manchester providing an electric crowd. Orton/Nakamura vs Steenerico probably even gets the show-closing spot, meaning that this won’t go tremendously long, but it doesn’t need to The question here isn’t who wins, because there’s no way AJ loses, but it’s who he faces for the belt next. Styles/Nakamura feels like the end goal for New Orleans, but between then and now? Your guess is as good as mine. Prediction: AJ Styles

Lawson Leong: When Jinder won the title, I laughed. When I learned HHH beat Jinder in India, I laughed. These were laughs of ever consuming nihilism, not joy. So given that, what makes everyone so sure Styles is winning this? Because it “MAKES SENSE”? Look who we’re dealing with here. Just because Jinder was a failure in every conceivable way, does not mean anything to me until the match is over. Now, I still think AJ will win, but I am far from sure about it. Also, is this the only non stip singles match on the show? What is with this card? Hopefully Styles can be a miracle worker here again and give us the 2nd ever good Jinder match. And hopefully we get Styles/Nakamura at Wrestlemania. …Hopefully. Prediction: AJ Styles

August Baker: Thank God for AJ Styles. It must be nice to have one of the best wrestlers in the world in your back pocket for when your pet project turns out to be a huge bust. The WWE title has taken a backseat to the Shane McMahon story the last several months, but that’s also because Jinder has been terrible. If AJ keeps the belt, and he freaking better, I’m going to be very interested to see if he gets wrapped up in that story. There’s not a lot of credible challengers on Smackdown right now that’s not in the previous match. A Nakamura match is the obvious choice, but it may happen sooner than people want. Prediction: AJ Styles