SmackDown Commissioner Shane McMahon Confronted SmackDown General Manager Daniel Bryan
How Shane would respond to Bryan's actions was the biggest question coming into this show, so it was logical to lead off with this face-to-face encounter. Unfortunately, this lasted way longer than it needed to considering not much was accomplished or furthered, other than Bryan teasing that Shane is slowly turning into his father. I like both Bryan and Shane, but I'm beyond tired of the blue brand centering around the authority figures. WWE really wants us to think that this is leading to a match between the two, and if it doesn't, I guarantee you there will be a lot of disappointed people.
Chad Gable and Shelton Benjamin def. SmackDown Tag Team Champion The Usos (Non-title)
I was pretty underwhelmed by their initial encounter last month, so I was glad they had the chance to rebound with this awesome affair that was especially entertaining after the commercial break. Both teams are just so good, and when given an ample amount of time, they shine (as seen here). I would assume Gable and Benjamin beating the champs in non-title action will result in them receiving a shot at the straps soon.
SmackDown Women's Champion Charlotte Flair and Naomi def. The Riott Squad
Charlotte's pre-match promo talking about the announcement of the first-ever women's Royal Rumble match coming up was enough evidence that she is a far better talker as a heel than as a babyface. Naomi's promo at least confirmed her participation in the bout. The tag team contest that followed was well-wrestled, but it's obvious that the Creative Team has already lost their way with The Riott Squad. Now, they're just another three girls on the roster.
United States Champion Dolph Ziggler Looked Back on His WWE Career
Well, this certainly was a weird segment. It came across like a farewell, but it wasn't acknowledged as such. Then again, rumors have been running rampant for months now that Ziggler's current contract was coming up and he wasn't sure if he'd re-sign. In all honesty, I hope he is indeed on his way out of WWE. It's not because I hate him by any means or don't respect what he's accomplished, but it's extremely difficult to care about him in this environment. A new start elsewhere (New Japan Pro Wrestling? Ring of Honor?) could really revitalize him.
The New Day def. Rusev and Aiden English
Of all the wrestlers on the roster to do holiday silliness with, New Day and Rusev and English were perfect for it since they aren't usually taken seriously anyway. I expected this to be brief, but it ended up being a ton of fun and lengthier than I thought it would be. For what it's worth, the crowd was super hot for Rusev. I don't know if the company will care, but it should lead to more television time for him going forward if nothing else.
WWE Champion AJ Styles, Shinsuke Nakamura and Randy Orton def. Sami Zayn, Kevin Owens and Jinder Mahal
These six Superstars had a highly enjoyable match at Tribute to the Troops last week, and while this was also a quality main event, I was looking forward to something fresh coming out of Clash of Champions. For example, what's next for Owens and Zayn? Who will be Styles' next WWE title challenger be? Why is Mahal still wrestling in main event matches? It was the definition of filler, but at least it closed out the night on a high note and sent the crowd home happy. Fingers crossed Orton and Styles are on a collision course for the championship toward the Royal Rumble.
If you thought the build to Clash of Champions was atrocious, just imagine how pointless the last edition of SmackDown Live in 2017 is going to feel. This wasn't a terrible show, but nothing important seemed to happen, and thus the episode was just kind of there. Ziggler's segment actually piqued my interest for a change and the main event effectively killed time, but that was about it. Expect next week's show to be much of the same with it falling the day after Christmas, but the premiere SmackDown of 2018 should be heavily hyped.