Clash of Champions was a show full of surprises, as I was only excited about the weird match with two referees heading into it. The rest of the show had minimal or terrible build, but they worked their asses off in the ring at the actual event to make the crowd care about what was going on throughout most of the night. It wasn't SmackDown's best show of the year, but it was very solid and leaves the brand in a good place heading into The Road to WrestleMania.
Mojo Rawley def. Zack Ryder
I'm surprised how good this match was, considering they didn't even featured these men on the go-home SmackDown. But they did give this match a pre-match video package and the crowd seemed to be very much into the action, which added a lot to what was considered a throwaway kickoff match.
Both men brought a lot of intensity and told a good story. Zack Ryder started off with the upperhand since he is the 10-year veteran in WWE, but Mojo Rawley's brute strength and intensity was just too much to overcome as he got the decisive win. He looked great here (ignoring his weird new theme song) and it seems this new push is going off to a solid start.
Triple Threat Match for the WWE United States Championship
Dolph Ziggler def. Baron Corbin (c), Bobby Roode
Rating: THE BEST
If you have been reading my weekly SmackDown articles and listening to Heel Turn, you would know just had absolutely down I've been on this entire feud. They throw Dolph Ziggler into the match via social media and then just had them constantly have singles matches with the third man causing a disqualification. I could not care less before this match began, but once the bell rang these three worked their asses off to get me to pay attention and it succeeded.
This may have been the best match of the night, with all three men weaving in and out of the action well and keeping the action going without many breaks. All three men looked great, even Baron Corbin who played his role well complementing Ziggler and Bobby Roode. I bit on a lot of the nearfalls despite having my mind made up Corbin would retain, and the ending was creative and surprising as Dolph Ziggler hit the Zig Zag on Corbin while he was hitting the End of Days on Roode. Ziggler pinned the champion clean to win, and it worked perfectly.
Despite your thoughts on these men, this is the match to go out of your way to watch.
Fatal 4-Way Tag Team Match for the WWE SmackDown Tag Team Championship
The Usos (c) def. The New Day, Gable & Benjamin, Rusev & Aiden English
Rating: REALLY GOOD
This match, like the Owens/Zayn match that we'll talk about in a bit, had a weird stipulation that was super rough in the beginning but once they settled in added a lot to the match. Usually Fatal 4-Way ta matches involve two legal men in the ring who can tag in anyone else from any team, but for this one a member of each team was legal and could only tag their own partner.
The awkwardness came from the two pairings trying to have a single tag match with another team without overshadowing or getting in the way of the other team outside of breaking up falls. But soon the match devolved into everyone cycling into the ring the match picked up a lot of steam and became the showcase I was hoping for.
Lumberjack Match for the WWE SmackDown Women's Championship
Charlotte Flair (c) def. Natalya
This match was a mess. The story was less about the two competing in the ring and more focused on the lumberjacks arguing on who is going to beat up Charlotte Flair. The action in the ring was forgettable for the most part, and Naomi's whole arc felt like it was given so little attention it didn't even need to be there. I appreciate Carmella trying to use my idea of cashing in mid-match, but it never happened. This sums up how this match was a collection of missed opportunities and fell flat.
Tag Team Match
Bludgeon Brothers def. Breezango
Rating: THE WORST
This was the blow-off to months of The Fashion Files? Fuck off.
Tag Team Match with Shane McMahon and Daniel Bryan as guest referees; If Owens & Zayn lose they are fired from WWE
Kevin Owens & Sami Zayn def. Randy Orton & Shinsuke Nakamura
Rating: THE BEST
They had been promoting this as "there's never been two referees at the same time!" and I kept having flashbacks to that double referee tag match last year and got angry. But they were actually right, because in that other one match there was a referee inside the ring and one outside whereas here both were in the ring at the same time. It was confusing at first with Daniel Bryan and Shane McMahon trying to figure out how to decide rope breaks and counting pins at the same time completely out of sync, but I found it hilarious every time. They later decided to split the ring up with each covering half, and it worked somewhat until the ending sequence.
Shane was counting a Randy Orton pin off of an RKO but Kevin Owens shoved Bryan so he fell on Shane. Shane thought this was Bryan breaking up the pin and argued with him, but then later Shane intentionally and blatantly stopped counting a Sami Zayn pinfall. This pissed off Bryan who was trying to keep things fair, but in an act of revenge gave a quick count for Zayn before Shane could stop him.
Despite Orton and Shinsuke Nakamura being inconsequential in this match, I absolutely loved the dynamic of the two referees and Owens & Zayn trying to maneuver around this stipulation to keep their jobs. I do wish this was the main event and the show ended on Shane and Bryan being at odds.
WWE Championship Match
AJ Styles (c) def. Jinder Mahal
This match a whole lot of nothing. AJ Styles is still one of the best wrestlers in the world, but it was clear he was working with a handicap dealing with Jinder Mahal. He had Jinder spend the entire match working his ribs so he could do his best to sell that lame offense, and he did his best but it wasn't quite enough. They tried to limit the Singh Brothers in an effort to show Jinder is a legitimate challenger but he was already going into this match as damaged goods. I quickly lost interest, as did the crowd.
At least AJ Styles retained the championship, because Jinder Mahal being WWE Champion heading into WrestleMania season would have been a disaster.