Clash of Champions (2017)
Clash of Champions (2017) was a professional wrestling pay-per-view event and WWE Network event produced by WWE for the SmackDown brand. It took place on December 17, 2017, at TD Garden in Boston, Massachusetts. It was the second event under the Clash of Champions chronology. As per the theme of the event, all of WWE's titles exclusive to SmackDown at the time were defended.
|Clash of Champions (2017)|
|Date||December 17, 2017|
|WWE Network event chronology|
|Clash of Champions chronology|
Seven matches were contested at the event, including one on the pre-show. In the main event, AJ Styles defeated Jinder Mahal to retain the WWE Championship. Of the four SmackDown-exclusive championships, only the United States Championship changed hands, with Dolph Ziggler defeating defending champion Baron Corbin and Bobby Roode in a triple threat match. In another marquee match, Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn defeated Randy Orton and Shinsuke Nakamura with Shane McMahon and Daniel Bryan as special guest referees to keep their jobs.
In mid-2016, the WWE reintroduced the brand extension, splitting its main roster between the Raw and SmackDown brands, represented by the shows of the same name. Clash of Champions was subsequently established as a Raw-exclusive event, replacing Night of Champions, a pay-per-view in which the concept was that all WWE titles were defended; Clash of Champions was established on the same concept. The 2017 event was made a SmackDown-exclusive event, with all of its titles at the time defended – the WWE Championship, the SmackDown Women's Championship, the United States Championship, and the SmackDown Tag Team Championship.
The card featured seven matches, including one on the pre-show. The matches resulted from scripted storylines, where wrestlers portrayed heroes, villains, or less distinguishable characters in scripted events that built tension and culminated in a wrestling match or series of matches, with results predetermined by WWE's writers on the SmackDown brand. Storylines were produced on WWE's weekly television show SmackDown Live.
On the November 7 episode of SmackDown, AJ Styles defeated Jinder Mahal to win the WWE Championship for the second time. This resulted in Styles taking Mahal's place in the Universal Champion versus WWE Champion match at Survivor Series against Raw's Brock Lesnar, which Styles lost. Mahal cut a promo during Survivor Series stating that he hoped that Styles would win for SmackDown, but he wanted Lesnar to weaken Styles so that he could easily win back the WWE Championship. The following SmackDown, Styles came out and addressed the WWE fans. Mahal appeared on the TitanTron and challenged Styles to a rematch for the championship at Clash of Champions, which Styles accepted.
On the November 14 episode of SmackDown, Charlotte Flair defeated Natalya to win the SmackDown Women's Championship. This resulted in Flair taking Natalya's place in the Raw Women's Champion versus SmackDown Women's Champion match at Survivor Series against Raw's Alexa Bliss, which Flair won. Two days later on SmackDown, a rematch for the SmackDown Women's Championship was scheduled, but the match ended in a no contest after Flair and Natalya were attacked by the main roster debuts of NXT's Ruby Riott, Liv Morgan, and Sarah Logan, later referred to as The Riott Squad. On December 1 on WWE.com, in honoring the theme of the event, Byron Saxton announced that Flair and Natalya would have a SmackDown Women's Championship rematch at Clash of Champions. On the December 5 episode of SmackDown, Carmella and Lana, on behalf of Tamina, confronted General Manager Daniel Bryan and complained about Natalya getting a rematch for the title. They were then interrupted by The Riott Squad where Riott also complained. Due to their arguments, Bryan then decided to make the championship rematch between Flair and Natalya a Lumberjack match with the six women serving as the lumberjacks. The following week, Flair faced Riott with Natalya on commentary, which Flair won by disqualification after Natalya attacked her. After the match, The Riott Squad attacked Flair. Naomi came out for the save, who was added as a lumberjack, followed by the other three lumberjacks, Carmella, Lana, and Tamina, who attacked The Riott Squad.
On the November 21 episode of SmackDown, during the Lumberjack match between The New Day's Big E and Kofi Kingston and Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn, United States Champion Baron Corbin accidentally hit Bobby Roode, which caused a brawl between all of the lumberjacks. The following week, while Roode was being interviewed by Charly Caruso, Corbin interrupted. Roode then issued a challenge to Corbin for the United States Championship, but Corbin denied his request. However, on December 1, it was announced that Corbin would defend the title in a triple threat match against Roode and Dolph Ziggler at Clash of Champions. The three confronted each other backstage the following week where Ziggler claimed he was added because he was a two-time world champion, a five-time Intercontinental Champion, a former United States Champion, and successfully cashed in his Money in the Bank briefcase, unlike Corbin, who failed to do so a few months prior.
On the October 10 episode of SmackDown, Chad Gable and Shelton Benjamin defeated The Hype Bros (Mojo Rawley and Zack Ryder), Breezango (Fandango and Tyler Breeze), and The Ascension (Konnor and Viktor) in a number one contender's fatal four-way tag team match. Gable and Benjamin received their SmackDown Tag Team Championship match on the November 7 episode of SmackDown and defeated champions The Usos (Jey and Jimmy Uso), but by count-out, and as a result, The Usos retained the titles. A few weeks later, it was announced that The Usos would defend the SmackDown Tag Team Championship against The New Day and Gable and Benjamin in a triple threat tag team match at Clash of Champions. On the December 5 episode, Rusev and Aiden English were added to the match after defeating The New Day's Big E and Kingston, making it a fatal four-way tag team match.
Throughout the summer of 2017, Kevin Owens had issues with Commissioner Shane McMahon, which led to a Hell in a Cell match at Hell in a Cell where Sami Zayn appeared and helped Owens defeat Shane. On the following episode of SmackDown, Zayn explained that during the Superstar Shake-up, he was glad that he was brought to SmackDown, which had been called the "land of opportunity", but he never got an opportunity, and after Shane ignored his warning about facing Owens, he realized that Shane did not actually care about him and Shane only cared about himself and that was why he saved Owens. He said that despite their rough history, going from being best friends to bitter rivals, Owens was still his brother and he realized that Owens was right all along in his actions and thanked Owens. Shane appeared the following week and was confronted by Zayn, who said that he would take him out "in one second" if Shane wanted to compete again. Shane said they would eventually settle their score, but his focus then was on Survivor Series. Both Owens and Zayn had the opportunity to be on Team SmackDown at Survivor Series, but lost their qualification matches. At Survivor Series, Owens and Zayn attacked Shane during the 5-on-5 Survivor Series interbrand elimination match against Team Raw, which SmackDown ultimately lost. A few weeks later, Shane decided that at Clash of Champions, Owens and Zayn would face Randy Orton and a partner of his choosing, who Orton later revealed would be Shinsuke Nakamura. Afterwards, Shane announced himself as the special guest referee while also putting an additional stipulation that if Owens and Zayn were to lose at Clash of Champions, they would be fired from WWE. On the final SmackDown before Clash of Champions, General Manager Daniel Bryan decided to add himself as a second special guest referee to keep the match fair.
For months on Breezango's "Fashion Files" segment, Fandango and Tyler Breeze were being tormented by two unknown assailants. They thought it might have been The Ascension (Konnor and Viktor), but The Ascension joined with Breezango and after finding a clue with "2B" on it, they deduced that the two unknown people were The Bludgeon Brothers, who were being promoted as "coming soon" to SmackDown. The Bludgeon Brothers, the new team of former Wyatt Family members Luke Harper and Erick Rowan, now going by the shortened ringnames of Harper and Rowan, debuted on the November 21 episode of SmackDown, and after The Ascension "sacrificed" themselves, they convinced Breezango to face The Bludgeon Brothers at Clash of Champions.
On the November 21 episode of SmackDown, The Hype Bros (Mojo Rawley and Zack Ryder) were defeated by The Bludgeon Brothers (Harper and Rowan). They had a rematch the following week, but were again defeated. After the match, a frustrated Rawley attacked Ryder. The following week, Rawley explained that he was doing good as a singles competitor, citing that he had won the André the Giant Memorial Battle Royal at WrestleMania 33 without Ryder, but after Ryder came back from his injury in June, he got dragged back into being a tag team with him again. The two went back and forth on social media and on December 12, Ryder challenged Rawley to a match at Clash of Champions, which was accepted by Rawley through his Twitter and the match was scheduled for the pre-show.
|English commentators||Tom Phillips|
|Spanish commentators||Carlos Cabrera|
|German commentators||Tim Haber|
|Ring announcer||Greg Hamilton|
|Pre-show panel||Renee Young|
|Talking Smack panel||Renee Young|
The actual pay-per-view opened with Baron Corbin defending the United States Championship in a triple threat match against Bobby Roode and Dolph Ziggler. As Corbin executed the "End of Days" on Roode, Ziggler simultaneously performed a "Zig-Zag" on Corbin to win his second U.S. Championship.
Next, The Usos defended the SmackDown Tag Team Championship against Big E and Kofi Kingston of The New Day, Rusev and Aiden English, and Shelton Benjamin and Chad Gable in a fatal four-way match. Unlike traditional fatal four-way tag team matches, one member from each team remained in the ring throughout the match. The match ended when Jimmy performed two superkicks on Gable and Jey performed a "Samoan Splash" on Gable to retain the title.
After that, Charlotte Flair defended the SmackDown Women's Championship against Natalya in a lumberjack match with The Riott Squad (Ruby Riott, Liv Morgan, and Sarah Logan), Naomi, Carmella, Tamina, and Lana serving as the lumberjacks. After Charlotte performed a moonsault to the outside taking out all the lumberjacks, Carmella attempted to cash-in her Money in the Bank briefcase, but Riott stopped her and the lumberjacks brawled into the back. As Natalya attempted the "Sharpshooter", Flair countered it into the "Figure-Eight Leg Lock" and forced Natalya to submit, thus Charlotte retained the title. After the match, an upset Natalya said she was turning her back on everyone.
Later, The Bludgeon Brothers (Harper and Rowan) faced Breezango (Fandango and Tyler Breeze). In a squash match, Harper and Rowan performed a double crucifix powerbomb on Fandango, with Rowan pinning Fandango for the win. Afterwards, they cut a promo saying that, "it was the end of the beginning and the beginning of the end".
In the penultimate match, Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn defended their jobs against Randy Orton and Shinsuke Nakamura with Commissioner Shane McMahon and General Manager Daniel Bryan as the special guest referees. Throughout the match, there was confusion between Shane and Bryan on who should call the pinfalls until they came to an agreement, each claiming halves of the ring. Outside the ring, Owens performed a frog splash on Nakamura through an announce table. In the climax, Zayn attempted to pin Orton with a roll-up, but Shane intentionally stopped the count at two. Bryan and Shane then argued, during which Bryan shoved Shane. Orton attempted an "RKO" on Zayn, who avoided it, and then pinned Orton with a roll-up. Bryan made a fast count to give Owens and Zayn the win, thus keeping their jobs.
In the main event, AJ Styles defended the WWE Championship against Jinder Mahal. Styles performed a springboard 450° splash on Mahal, only for The Singh Brothers (Samir and Sunil Singh) to pull Mahal out of the ring. Styles performed a "Phenomenal Forearm" on Sunil, who was outside the ring, and a "Styles Clash" on Samir on the floor. As Styles attempted another springboard, Mahal avoided it and performed the "Khallas" on Styles for a near-fall. In the end, Styles forced Mahal to submit to the "Calf Crusher" to retain the title.
On the following episode of SmackDown, General Manager Daniel Bryan and Commissioner Shane McMahon confronted each other about the controversial finish to the tag team match at Clash of Champions. Shane said that he stopped his three count because of his emotions as he remembered all the wrongs that Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn had done on SmackDown. Shane then asked why Bryan made a fast count. Bryan said he was trying to protect Shane from himself. Bryan said he became General Manager because he believed in the shared vision that SmackDown was the "land of opportunity", and Shane was trying to take that away from Owens and Zayn. Shane said to be careful as Owens and Zayn would turn on him. Bryan said that Shane was sounding like The Authority and wanted to prevent Shane from turning into his father, Vince McMahon. Bryan said to fire himself if Shane was going to fire anyone. Shane paused for a moment to process, said he trusted Bryan, and wished him good luck with the show and left. WWE Champion AJ Styles would then get intertwined into this feud, resulting in Bryan scheduling Styles to defend the WWE Championship against both Owens and Zayn at the Royal Rumble in a 2-on-1 handicap match, while Randy Orton and Shinsuke Nakamura announced their participation in the Royal Rumble match.
Also on the following episode of SmackDown, new United States Champion Dolph Ziggler cut a promo addressing the WWE fans and his championship win. Clips of Ziggler's past accomplishments and championship wins were shown on the TitanTron. Ziggler then said that the WWE Universe did not deserve him. He dropped the title and left it in the ring and left. The following week, after unsuccessful attempts of contacting Ziggler, General Manager Daniel Bryan vacated the United States Championship and announced a tournament to crown a new champion, which was won by Bobby Roode, who defeated Jinder Mahal in the tournament final on the January 16, 2018 episode. Other participants of the tournament included former champion Baron Corbin, Tye Dillinger, Xavier Woods, Aiden English, Mojo Rawley, and Zack Ryder.
On the December 18 episode of Raw, Raw Commissioner Stephanie McMahon announced that the 2018 Royal Rumble would feature the first-ever women's Royal Rumble match. On SmackDown, SmackDown Women's Champion Charlotte Flair first addressed her victory over Natalya at Clash of Champions, then said that she would be waiting for the winner of the women's Royal Rumble match at WrestleMania 34. Naomi came out and became the first woman to announce her participation. They were then interrupted by The Riott Squad. Before they could announce their participation, Naomi stopped them and challenged two of them to a tag team match between her and Flair. Ruby Riott and Sarah Logan represented the Squad, but were defeated.
In the tag team division, Chad Gable and Shelton Benjamin got a clean win over SmackDown Tag Team Champions The Usos in a non-title match. Gable and Benjamin received a tag team championship match on the January 2, 2018 episode and defeated The Usos, however, Jimmy, who was pinned, was not the legal man, and the match was restarted in which The Usos won. A rematch was scheduled for the Royal Rumble in a two-out-of-three-falls match. Also in the tag team division, Breezango faced The Bludgeon Brothers in a rematch from Clash of Champions which ended in disqualification after interference from The Ascension. Another rematch was to happen the following week, but The Bludgeon Brothers dismantled both Breezango and The Ascension.
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