Tomorrow night at the TD Garden in Boston, Massachusetts, a wrestling pay-per-view will take place, Clash Of Champions, but, in classic WWE fashion, the biggest storyline heading into this event features exactly zero champions. I’m referring to the Shinsuke Nakamura and Randy Orton vs. Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn with special guest referees Shane McMahon and Daniel Bryan. If the Best Friends come up short against two of the top three babyfaces on Smackdown Live, they’re fired from WWE all together. It’s simple and compelling and, perhaps, most importantly, very hard to predict with so many moving parts. One might call this high-profile, December match armageddon for Owens and Zayn with their careers on the line.
Come to think of it, there might be something to this “Armageddon” word and dubbing an end-of-the-year PPV after it. It’d just make more sense, wouldn’t it?
Now, let’s dive into what makes this blue brand PPV interesting.
Where are they going with Mojo Rawley
On the pre-show -- something you should never, ever watch -- Rawley will face off against his former tag team partner and hype bro, Zack Ryder. Both wrestlers are in an odd spot in the company and both could really use a win here. But Ryder can’t go over here, and it’s time for him to do something else somewhere else. Rawley should win, but does it matter? If you win a pre-show match, did you really win anything at all?
This really could be it for Ryder in the WWE. I don’t know how much time is left on his current contract, but if he can’t even go over Rawley here, why stick around? He already tried going back to NXT, he had his nice, brief WrestleMania moment and he’s in all likelihood never winning another WWE title in his career. Ryder is talented and he could be more in other companies -- I’m looking at you, Impact Wrestling, or whatever you’re calling yourself these days.
Wait, is there anyway they both can go?
Baron Corbin has to retain his US Title, right?
Corbin is just kind of there right now. For the most part, 2017 has been very kind to the Lone Wolf. He could have easily fallen into Chuck Palumbo 2.0 purgatory, but it’s clear somebody higher up likes him, as he’s gotten a new entrance, new music and is treated as a top guy on Smackdown Live. In a lot of ways, he’s like an unlikeable version of Braun Strowman; they both don’t seem to be prudent characters, they just want to destroy whoever gets in their way -- Strowman just does it in more impressive, hilarious fashion.
But his feud with Bobby Roode and Dolph Ziggler doesn’t have the same attractiveness his earlier U.S. title feud with AJ Styles and Tye Dillinger had. With Roode cleaning house on the go-show show Tuesday night, it seems likely that Corbin is retaining and he should. Corbin’s a strong enough heel where when the right babyface comes along to take his title, it could be a big moment. Roode and Ziggler don’t work here.
No matter what, Roode really needs a big showing here. (Perhaps a post-match beatdown and heel turn after Corbin steals it in clever, heel-like fashion?)
Is this the end of Jinder vs. AJ Styles?
I have to give the WWE credit here, as this feud ran out of juice weeks ago, but Road Dogg totally redeemed himself Tuesday night by putting together a fantastic opening segment with Styles, the Singh Brothers and Mahal. Adding more layers to the Singh Brothers and how it affects both Mahal and Styles is intriguing and has me now thinking: Will Randy Orton’s favorite punching bags turn on Mahal Sunday night?
This feud needed some sort of spice sprinkled in somewhere, anywhere, really, because the result has always seemed clear: Styles is the No. 1 babyface on the Smackdown Live and should be holding the title heading into WrestleMania next year. (And the match itself is almost certainly going to mirror 2017 as a whole -- trash.)
Who turns between Bryan and Shane?
Zayn and Owens aren’t going anywhere, so how are they leaving Boston with their jobs? Who is eating a pin between Orton and Nakamura? Who is going to be the one that ultimately counts 1-2-3 for either Zayn or Owens? These are the kinds of questions that make this match a must-see because we just don’t know.
Ultimately, I think a Shane turn would be the tougher sell, so I’d bet on Bryan being the one to give Owens and Zayn the victory. The Smackdown commissioner siding with the guy who viciously assaulted his father just a few months ago, which led to the former trying to kill the latter by jumping off a steel cage only to be foiled by another indie darling.
Either way, this match has all the makings of a memorable one with a finish that has all the potential in the world to be one of the best of the year.