It’s Tuesday, and that means it’s time for our WWE SmackDown Live preview – Clash of Champions Go-Home Edition! When we last left our heroes, Kevin Owens was handcuffed to the ring, Baron Corbin was keeping his belt clean, and we tasted some game meat.
What will the Blue Brand have in store for us tonight in Cincinnati? Let’s have a look…
Coming off of the super shocking revelation that Shinsuke Nakamura would be Randy Orton’s partner at Clash of Champions, Nakamura will take on Kevin Owens tonight. We also found out that Owens and Sami Zayn’s careers will be on the line in that match, and that Shane McMahon would be the Special Guest Referee.
While the four of these guys are more than capable of putting on a great show in a straight-forward match on Sunday, I’m thinking high jinks are likely to ensue. The tension between Daniel Bryan and Shane McMahon has certainly made it feel like we have some sort of “turn” coming, but to WWE’s credit (assuming the ambiguity is intentional), it’s not clear what the face/heel dynamic is between the two. Bryan is aligning himself with the bad guys, but Shane handcuffed a guy to the ring, orchestrated a Cartel-level hit on the RAW roster, and has generally been kind of a dick.
It’ll be fun to see where it goes on Sunday, and I’m looking forward to see what develops tonight.
1. Face To Face
After nothing doing last week, A.J. Styles and Jinder Mahal would “come face to face” one last time before their title match at Clash. Their “rivalry” – which has mostly consisted of Styles beating up Singh Brothers – gave us its latest chapter two weeks ago, when A.J. Styles AND Jinder Mahal beat up the Singh Brothers.
If you’re Mahal or a Mahal fan, the next five days are pretty big for you. Jinder essentially has one more promo tonight and one more match on Sunday that will factor into where he goes after the Styles feud is done. I say this of course, assuming that Styles beats Mahal on Sunday. Will Mahal stick around in the upper mid-card, or is he headed for Tye Dillinger Island where you only pop in once a month or so?
2. Zolph Diggler, Again
I say a lot of bad things about the parts of wrestling that involve Dolph Ziggler, and I sincerely wish I didn’t have to. On top of that, I feel even worse saying bad things about Dolph Ziggler when the bad things he’s involved in aren’t his fault. I just want to care about this guy again and it’s frustrating when I continue to hope for and never receive a reason to do so.
Before last week’s episode, it was announced that Ziggler would get a shot at the United States Title at Clash of Champions, facing Baron Corbin and Bobby Roode. The problem with that is that Ziggler hadn’t been on TV in a hot minute, and had done literally nothing to earn this opportunity. So he shows up on Tuesday night and does commentary on the Corbin-Roode match, and has to attempt to justify why he’s in the match on Sunday.
Listen, I don’t know anything, so when I come in with the “this is the right way and this is the wrong way” shit, feel free to take it with a grain of salt. But why would it have been difficult to throw together a 20-second promo where someone says “if Ziggler wins this match he gets a U.S. Title shot!” and then have him beat someone on Tuesday? Announce him for the match that night instead of a few days prior, and then he has an actual (although lazy) reason to be involved here. Then do Corbin-Roode with Dolph interfering on the go-home. This isn’t calculus.
Anyway, tonight one of the guys will fight another one of the guys and the other guy will interfere. Buckle up!
3. Riott Squad Goals
I made a “squad goals” joke because I’m turning 30 in a month and want to make sure everyone knows how hip I am. Also, the Riott Squad might not be very good, which is a huge bummer.
The Riott Squad got a ton of mic time last Tuesday, and it didn’t go so well. Morgan doesn’t seem like a real human, Logan was a running joke all week for how bad she performed, and Riott is being lamented as “the one who sucks the least.” The build has indicated that they could be featured pretty heavily in the SmackDown Women’s Title Lumberjack match at Clash of Champions, but after last week’s poor outing, it’ll be interesting to see if they can bounce back, or if their role will be reduced.
4. No More Mojo
Go away. Go very far way.
5. More Rusev
With all due respect to ‘Fashion Files,’ Breezango may have officially passed the RIDICULOUS COMEDY TAG TEAM CHAMPIONSHIP belt to Rusev and Aiden English. I wasn’t ready for it either, but now that Rusev and English have consistently entertained outside of the ring AND find themselves in Sunday’s title match at Clash of Champions, they have the top spot.
This is fantastic for me, because I never want to go back to the days when Rusev was routinely off of TV for weeks at a time. I don’t know if they’ll win at Clash (although I actually think they have a decent shot), but Rusev and English becoming SmackDown staples and getting significant screen time every week is undoubtedly a positive for the show.
WWE SmackDown Live airs on The USA Network at 8:00 pm EST. Make sure to check back after the show for my full recap.