On Sunday, December 17, champions will clash as the WWE presents its final pay-per-view event of 2017, the aptly titled “Clash of Champions.”
Back in the late 1980s, The now-defunct WCW promotion put on super-cards of the same name. They would showcase the elite matches you would normally see on a pay-per-view, but were available on regular old TV for free.
Fans were treated to some great Ric Flair matches against the likes of Sting, Ricky “The Dragon” Steamboat, and a five-star classic with Terry Funk. But for a simple fan like me, I’ll always remember the debacle debut of The Shockmaster.
I’m not sure if it was the terrible sparkly stormtrooper helmet that did the company in, but eventually, WCW was sold to World Wrestling Entertainment. As a nod to the deep history of its new acquisition, the WWE named one of its annual pay-per-views Clash of Champions. Although the modern version might be missing Ric Flair and The Shockmaster, the SmackDown brand has enough talent to give fans some quality wrasslin.
All the SmackDown titles will be on the line on December 17th, including AJ Styles defending his WWE Championship against Jinder Mahal. The Maharaja will be looking to enact revenge after losing his title to the Phenomenal One just before Survivor Series. Could we see that title change hands once again?
Also on the card is a fitting match between women’s champion Charlotte Flair and Natalya. As I mentioned above, her father, Ric Flair, was usually the focal point during the WCW days of Clash of the Champions so it’s cool seeing his daughter now being a big part of the show.
Overall, the card should be pretty solid and there’s a realistic chance that more than one title changes hands. How realistic? See below as we preview the upcoming card and set the odds of who will walk out of Clash of Champions as a champion.
AJ Styles (c) vs. Jinder Mahal (WWE Championship)
This doesn’t have that main-event feel to it at all. It could go on last but that’s not a guarantee.
It wouldn’t surprise me if the WWE put the title back on Mahal at some point, maybe even before Wrestlemania. So with that as a possibility, the odds are closer than they probably deserve to be. However, if the WWE is smart, they will keep the title on AJ Styles; he not only deserves it but should be a focal point heading into Wrestlemania next year.
Mahal had the title for six months, and even though he improved over that time, he just wasn’t that over with the fans. It was a nice experiment but I’m not sure how much business he created for the company overseas which was the real reasoning behind the surprise title reign. It still elevated Mahal — and I look forward to seeing how he builds upon that — but it just doesn’t feel like the right time for him to regain the WWE Championship.
What I do know is that this match should be entertaining. Styles brings the most out of all his opponents and is the best performer in the biz today. For now, I’m leaning towards the Phenomenal one retaining his title but I’m completely prepared for an unnecessary “best for business” swerve here.
Predicted winner (and odds): AJ Styles (9/11)
Shinsuke Nakamura & Randy Orton vs. Kevin Owens & Sami Zayn (Shane McMahon is the referee. If Zayn and Owens lose, they are fired.)
Due to the star power and the stipulation involved, this could easily be the main event and there is a chance it could be elevated to the last match of the evening.
The stipulation pretty much gives the outcome away. At the end of SmackDown, Shane McMahon said that if Zayn and Owens lose, they will not only be fired from SmackDown Live but from the WWE altogether. Clearly, superstars like Zayn and Owens aren’t going to be fired, so the real fun of this match is how they will avoid losing.
I smell a twist here.
Something nefarious is going to happen, and not necessarily by Zayn and Owens. Could Shane McMahon or GM Daniel Bryan turn heel? There are a lot of possibilities at play but this is the safest bet on the card. All four performers involved can put on a great match so enjoy this one, even though we all know how it ends.
Predicted winner (and odds): Kevin Owens & Sami Zayn (1/19)
The Usos (c) vs. The New Day vs. Chad Gable & Shelton Benjamin vs. Rusev & Aiden English (Fatal 4-Way Smackdown Tag Team Championships)
This match has chaos written all over it and that’s why I think there will be a title change.
At first, I thought this would be an elimination match where it goes from four teams down to three, two, and then bam, one team survives and we have a winner. But no, instead WWE has stated that “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.”
Usually, this is a way for the champs to lose their title without really being pinned. It keeps the Usos strong which is why I think the titles are going to be put around the waist of The New Day. They are the WWE’s chosen ones to one day break the record of most tag team title reigns ever (nine) and they currently sit at five. It will be six after Clash of Champions.
Predicted winner (and odds): The New Day (2/3)
Charlotte Flair (c) vs. Natalya (SmackDown Women’s Championship Lumberjack Match)
This is another easy match to call. Charlotte will not lose the title she just won a few weeks back. I know the women’s title changes hands a lot, but she isn’t going to lose it that fast, especially at the event that her father made famous all those years ago.
This will be a quality match between two very technically sound performers. The Lumberjack stipulation will be interesting as all the other women stand outside of the ring ready to throw Natalya or Charlotte back in. You can also expect a beatdown by some of the outside ladies involved, especially Ruby Riott and her Riott Squad. It’s apparent that Ruby could be the next in line for Charlotte’s title, a match that would likely take place at January’s Royal Rumble. I expect this match to be a precursor to that rivalry.
Predicted winner (and odds): Charlotte (1/9)
Baron Corbin (c) vs. Bobby Roode vs. Dolph Ziggler (United States Championship)
At first, I was okay with Corbin vs. Roode for the United States Championship, but for some reason, they had to inexplicably insert Dolph Ziggler into the fold and now we have a triple-threat match.
I don’t see WWE creative taking the title off of Baron Corbin yet. But I don’t think the Roode vs. Corbin angle is over after Clash of Champions. I’d be surprised if a title change happens here, though a Roode awakening is in the cards in 2018 and it will be Glorious!
Predicted winner (and odds): Baron Corbin (2/3)
More matches may be added; the card is subject to change.