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The Smark Henry Pay-Per-Review: Clash of Champions 2017

Lately, no one's been able to tell stories the way SmackDown Live has. There's just no question about it, and this year's Clash of Champions was just another day in the office for the Blue Brand.

The SmackDown team proved exactly why the two big angles that comprised the last hour of the PPV were the current tentpoles of the brand. On top of that, everything else on the card worked as they were supposed to work, relative star power aside, and that much was expected from SmackDown to begin with. Glad to see that those who need to step their game up do so consistently, and that's how you know you've got a motivated locker room.

But back to the final act—man, that was just so good.

Let's take the tag match between Team Shane McMahon and the Yep Movement. On paper, the whole thing was a whole mess: it feels like Shinsuke Nakamura could be doing something better with his time (and he can) and no one, not even the referees themselves until like five minutes into the match, understood how two sets of officiating was going to work.


Lo and behold, however, it just worked. The internal logic was eventually established and became integral (alongside the alliances and Shane's own hubris) to the match's finish. The single act of Shane refusing to count the three for Sami Zayn got one of the biggest reactions of the evening. It wasn't even any "cool" spot by any stretch of the imagination—it was just something the crowd understood. You don't need big names or high spots to draw a crowd in; they just need something they can grasp.

And it's this distillation that also made the main event work so well. It seems like AJ Styles was the first person to figure out that Jinder Mahal would work so much better if he just threw the dudes smaller than him around. For the Maharaja's part, he kept up with the Phenomenal One in the entire 20 or so minutes their championship match went, bringing out new tricks from the book. It's the second time Jinder looked like a real main event player since his big push this year.

SmackDown still gets the short end of the stick when it comes to WWE's bigger picture, but damn do they know how to maximize what they've been dealt and put on a tight show. Clash of Champions hardly missed a beat, and it's a fine year-ender if I've ever seen one. A-

Match of the Night




Yeah, it's the simplest of stories: Jinder is bigger and stronger, and he's been working on AJ's core all night. AJ needs to endure the punishment and go the distance to prove himself worthy, and he did, marking the first time I couldn't believe somebody kicked out of a perfect Khallas. If SmackDown Live is the house AJ Styles built, it's only because he's building on bricks of making everyone else look as good as he is.

*****

  • Dolph Ziggler winning the US title puts an interesting wrinkle in the scene, although it's probably to facilitate Bobby Roode eventually winning the title without having to diminish Baron Corbin. Looks like Corbin is being primed for a shot at Styles soon enough.
  • The SmackDown tag team division continues to do what it does—in another display of making do with what seemed to be a raid from RAW in the Superstar Shakeup, the scene looks stronger than ever, especially with the Bludgeon Brothers still looming in the background. The first half of 2018 will continue to be fun for tag team wrestling.
  • What's the deal with crying Natalya? Guess we'll find out on this week's episode.
  • Anyone feel weird about Orton's undercut? Way to be late to 2016, dude, but I'm strangely fascinated by it.


Photo from WWE
*****

Romeo Moran (@roiswaris the Editor in Chief of Smark Henry and one of the three hosts of the Smark Gilas-Pilipinas Podcast. He gets by in this hard knock life through working in publishing. Smark Henry was his and Stan Sy's original vision of a watering hole for local wrestling fans. He roots for the undersized guys who hit hard, but really hates Davey Richards with his entire soul. He likes taking your wrestling questions over on his CuriousCat account.

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