Clash of Champions’ card was the dictionary definition of a brand-split PPV; full of multi-man nonsense and bad gimmicks. It had the potential to be alright, but the wrestlers would have had to work their arses off to get there. Sadly, that’s not quite what happened. Let’s dish out some stars.
Pre Show: Mojo Rawley defeated Zack Ryder
I never thought I’d see the day that I would be interested in a Mojo Rawley match. However, his work since turning heel has been great. He comes across as someone who genuinely hates Zack Ryder and believes he deserved better. It was an attitude that he carried into this as he worked stiff. This was a new side to Rawley, and it suited him.
It also allowed Zack Ryder to show off his serious side. It is a long-time since Ryder has been anything but a joke and while he was on the losing side here, it was a significant improvement on what he’s been doing recently.
This is never going to be more than a lower card feud, and it was nothing more than a perfectly fine match that felt better due to low expectations. Yet, in one pre-show, these two did more for themselves than the company has. Fair play to them.
Verdict: Two And A Half Stars
Dolph Ziggler defeated Baron Corbin and Bobby Roode to win the US Title
The show goes two for two in happy surprises. I don’t care about any of these wrestlers. Ziggler has been irrelevant for years, Corbin is as exciting as dry toast and Roode is an entrance. However, this was a decent fight with an innovative finish.
The best parts were when Ziggler and Roode were in there. Ziggler’s character might be awful but he can still go and he makes others look good. They even managed to hide Corbin’s limitations by bouncing around for him. For a few minutes, I was able to understand why WWE is giving these men the time they do.
Despite that, let’s not pretend we’re interested in this going forward. These wrestlers still have all the issues they had before the bell and Ziggler’s millionth mid-card title run isn’t going to change that. Yet, on the night these three men delivered. That’s at least a starting point for them.
Verdict: Three Stars
The Usos (Jimmy and Jey Uso) defeated The New Day (Big E and Kofi Kingston), Rusev and Aiden English and Shelton Benjamin and Chad Gable to retain the SmackDown Tag Team Titles
Let’s all take a minute to appreciate Rusev. It doesn’t matter what he is given, he turns it into gold. He and English are a delight. I never thought I’d say that.
This was always going to be a clusterfuck, and that’s what it was. Having four men in the ring at a time added to that and it led to confusion when there was a double pin. Even the commentary team didn’t know what that would mean. Despite that, this managed to be the fun type of clusterfuck rather than the messy one.
Which was mainly because it did an excellent job of giving some fringe players their moment. The Usos and The New Day are well established but getting to see Gable suplex everyone and Benjamin looking like he hasn’t missed a day was great. Meanwhile, English was able to prove he’s more than a singing voice and Rusev was the star he is. Those teams got a bit of a rub, and that’s important for the division.
The Usos going over was the right decision. Coming off that feud with The New Day they deserve a long run. This set them up nicely to branch off with either Rusev and English or Gable and Benjamin, and both directions would work.
Verdict: Three Stars
Charlotte defeated Natalya in a Lumberjack Match to retain the SmackDown Women’s Title
Would it not have been a good idea to put your hot new heel trio in a match? Lumberjack matches are one of the worst stipulations in a world full of bad ones. Leaving The Riott Squad (why is it spelt with two ts?) on the outside makes them feel irrelevant, no matter how much they get involved.
The only thing worse than the in-ring action was the commentary. Saxton and Graves were bickering all night, and here, they went into overdrive. It was distracting and not because it was entertaining. A perfect example of the worst of WWE commentary.
The match itself never got past its shitty stipulation. It became all about what was happening on the outside as the women in the ring never did enough to draw the attention to them. We know these two can have decent showings, but WWE goes back to it so often that it’s lost all its shine.
Hopefully, Charlotte getting the win here means the end of this feud and she can move onto something new. While they are doing that, maybe they’ll come up with some storylines for the rest of the women too.
Verdict: One And A Half Stars
Natalya’s post-match promo felt like a heel turn. As she’s already a heel, I’m not entirely sure what the point was.
The Bludgeon Brothers (Harper and Rowan) defeated Breezango (Fandango and Tyler Breeze)
Harper and Rowan are the latest wrestlers to lose their first names. Will Vince’s war on full names never end?
This should have been The Bludgeon Brothers (which is an awful gimmick by the way) pounding on two jobbers. Instead, they wasted Breezango in this spot. It wasn’t necessarily bad. It was just a squash where the wrong guys got squashed. Plus, the promo was atrocious.
Verdict: One And A Half Stars
Sami Zayn and Kevin Owens defeated Randy Orton and Shinsuke Nakamura in a match with Daniel Bryan and Shane McMahon as Special Referees
Do you want to know why people hate WWE? There were three wrestlers here who you could build a company around. Even Orton (who I’m not a fan of) is perfectly capable. Instead, they were in a long, overbooked mess of a match.
The worst part was that it wasn’t even overbooked entertainingly. This wasn’t a car crash like the Survivor Series main event. It was dull. None of these men seemed to care, and I don’t blame them. The company is more interested in the refs. One of whom is the ageing son of the boss (and was never a great wrestler), and the other is someone they won’t medically clear to wrestle.
This was awful. The only good thing about it is I know that I will never watch it again.
Verdict: Zero Stars
AJ Styles defeated Jinder Mahal to retain the WWE Title
Jinder Mahal has had bad matches with Cesaro, Shinsuke Nakamura and AJ Styles. One of those could be a fluke. All the talent in the world can’t make up for poor chemistry. You could even accept two of them since Nakamura apparently doesn’t give a shit at the moment. All three, though? At this point, you’ve got to admit that something is wrong. That something is that Jinder is a bad wrestler.
Which is what made this dull. AJ tried. God bless his little wrestling socks because he tried hard. It didn’t matter. Mahal’s heat section sucked the tiny amount of emotion that anyone had at the start of this out of the building. AJ bounced around, but Bret Hart at his peak couldn’t have made Mahal look like anything more than a poor worker.
I get what WWE tried to do with Jinder. There was a chance it could have worked. He could have taken that big spot and raised his game. Sadly, the man is just not good enough. He tries. However, I would try and no one is going to put me in the main event. It’s time for this experiment to end.
Verdict: One And A Half Stars (they’re all for AJ)
There was a moment early in this show when I wondered whether it was going to catch us off guard. The pre-show match and the first two main card matches smashed through my expectations. However, it wasn’t to be. The three big matches ranged from poor to atrocious and that’s what will be remembered. WWE is limping out of a bad year, and I can’t pretend I’m surprised.