Date: December 12, 2017
Location: U.S. Bank Arena in Cincinnati, OH
The Big Takeaway --
Daniel Bryan added himself as a second referee to the Owens & Zayn vs. Nakamura & Orton match at Clash of Champions. Shane McMahon was not on tonight’s show, and it was made clear that Bryan made this decision without Shane’s knowledge. Bryan also counted the fall for Owens’ win over Nakamura tonight after the original referee was knocked out. Bryan was previously on commentary for the match, which was interesting in and of itself. See below for more.
Show Recap --
Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn marched around backstage handing out flyers for the “Yep Movement,” asking people to occupy Smackdown. They wore the old Daniel Bryan t-shirts that read “Yes! Yes! Yes!” except they taped over it so it reads “Yep! Yep! Yep!” Chad Gable and Shelton Benjamin were among those who received flyers. The movement specifically targets Shane McMahon and his removal from power.
AJ Styles came out to a big reaction. He said he can’t sleep or eat, because all he can think about is defending his WWE title this Sunday. He figured Jinder Mahal must’ve felt the same way, but there’s no sense being champion if you aren’t willing to defend it.
Styles recalled everything Mahal did to defend his title, like making a Punjabi Prison match and bringing Great Khali all the way from India to help. Styles understood his desire to remain champion, but before he could continue, the Singh brothers interrupted.
The Singhs said they normally introduce Mahal, but not tonight, and they replayed the beating Mahal gave them. Styles said he felt bad for them and invited them to the ring so they could hug it out. They hesitated, but then went to the ring as the crowd chanted “hug it out.” They each hugged him. Samir wanted to hug him a second time but Styles said “That’s enough.”
The Singhs wanted to be in Styles’ corner at Clash of Champions. They recalled some of the things Mahal made them go through and said Mahal thinks they’re twins. Mahal also made them kiss his feet, which smelled like cheese and butter chicken.
Styles played along for a bit, but then asked why they were still with Mahal over the weekend in India. Styles showed some pictures of them with Mahal (which he somehow had cued up for this exact situation) and some of the crowd chanted “you fucked up.”
Mahal interrupted. Styles old the Singhs they suck and said he liked the idea of facing Mahal one-on-one. He headbutted Sunil and punched Samir. Mahal jumped on the apron as the crowd chanted “Jinder sucks” but he eventually backed down. A fine opening segment. It was nice to see a babyface easily outsmart the heels.
Charlotte Flair defeated Ruby Riott (w/Liv Morgan & Sarah Logan) via DQ (5:02)
Perhaps the previous segment went long, but there were no entrances here. (Charlotte received a partial entrance, but Ruby was already in the ring). The lone women’s match last week also didn’t have any entrances.
Also, they did the thing where they play a 3-minute video package after the women made their entrances, meaning they were just standing around that entire time. Also, they went to commercial less than a minute in the match.
After a break, the match was over quickly via DQ. Natalya was on commentary and only had nice things to say about the Riott Squad. Logan tried to get involved so Charlotte knocked her off the apron. Charlotte attacked everyone around ringside, including Natalya who had jumped off commentary. Eventually, Natalya decked her for the DQ. The Riott Squad beat up Charlotte afterwards as Natalya watched.
They set up the steel steps to crush Charlotte as they did to Naomi a few weeks ago, but Naomi made the save. She ran down the ramp and nailed a fantastic dropkick to both Morgan and Logan. She attacked Ruby in the ring and gave her a Rear View.
The Riott Squad ran away up the ramp. They were attacked by Carmella, Tamina and Lana but managed to escape.
Backstage, Daniel Bryan was on the phone with Shane McMahon. Owens and Zayn jumped in. They didn’t ask Bryan to get off the phone but instead showed off their “Yep!” t-shirts and dropped off a flyer for Bryan. After they left, Bryan took a close look at the flyer.
Non-title match: U.S. Champion Baron Corbin defeated Dolph Ziggler via DQ (1:33)
Both guys got an entrance. Corbin wrestled shirtless. Bobby Roode was on commentary and didn’t waste anytime interfering. He jumped in the ring and gave Ziggler a DDT for the DQ. Corbin tried to attack him so Roode gave him a DDT too. He posed. Two straight DQ finishes.
Tom Phillips and Byron Saxton said the Fashion Files is now a WWE.com exclusive show. They aired a clip from this week’s episode. Basically, Fandango told the Ascension that he and Tyler Breeze were going to fight the Bludgeon Brothers. Breeze seemed surprised. Breeze and Fandango lightly bumped fists and they looked terrified. (The match was announced for Clash of Champions.)
Bludgeon Brothers defeated Colin Delaney & Joe Monroe (1:21)
This was apparently the same Colin Delaney who was featured on WWE’s ECW years ago. Harper and Rowan won quickly with a double chokeslam on Delaney. The highlight of the match was Monroe loudly shrieking as he went up for a double chokeslam.
Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn Occupy SmackDown
Owens and Zayn came out. They tried to pretend there was an energy in the building for Occupy Smackdown and Owens said “Yep” after every statement made by Zayn. Some of the crowd also chanted “Yep.”
Owens said Shane was the worst McMahon of them all and went over the unfair stips at Clash of Champions. Zayn said “Yep” after each statement and the crowd is doing it too. Owens fired up and implored people in the back to come on down and join the Yep movement.
Nobody came out initially, but Daniel Bryan eventually walked out. Zayn thought they would be joined by thousands, but really, Bryan is the only one who counts. He excitedly introduced the crowd to Bryan who asked, “What are you guys doing?”
Owens said they were just like him, but Bryan reminded them that the Yes Movement was not about him, it was about the fans. Zayn agreed and said this movement was more about what him and Owens want and deserve.
Bryan said he has Shane’s back but also knows that Owens and Zayn are talented. He doesn’t deny that Shane will be a fair referee, but Bryan promised to make sure they are given the opportunity to prove they belong. However, if they lost, there would be no excuses, and they would be fired. Bryan then announced himself as the second referee. The crowd chanted “Yes.” They played Bryan’s music and Zayn and Owens chanted “Yes” too.
Non-title match: Rusev & Aiden English defeated Tag Team Champions The Usos
Before the match, English sang the rest of the song he didn’t get to finish last week. It was pretty great. New Day, on commentary, were not impressed. The Usos came out and let English know all the gifts he would get from Santa, including singing lessons, a toupée, a new tag partner and a tan. Gable and Benjamin came out and did some purposely cheesy comedy. Someone from the New Day snickered when Gable called him and Benjamin the masters.
This was another short match. English distracted the referee allowing Rusev to hit an Uso with a superkick. English followed with a DDT for the win.
Renee Young interviewed AJ Styles backstage, but he was attacked by Mahal who let him know he would not beat the odds on Sunday. Anything can happen of course, but it sure doesn’t feel like Mahal is getting the title back.
The announcers ran down the Clash of Champions card, which now includes Mojo Rawley vs. Zack Ryder. In the tag title fatal four way, you can only tag your own partner into the match.
Kevin Owens (w/Sami Zayn) defeated Shinsuke Nakamura (w/Randy Orton) (14:31)
Renee Young interviewed Orton and Nakamura before the match. She asked Orton if they were concerned at all over Shane McMahon’s motivations getting in the way. Before he could answer, the crowd chanted for Nakamura and Orton gave them a moment to keep chanting.
Orton said Owens and Zayn were obnoxious and self-entitled. He said they would do everyone a favour by beating the two idiots on Sunday. Renee asked Nakamura if he agreed with that sentiment and he responded, “Yep.”
Daniel Bryan joined commentary. He wasn’t sure exactly how he and Shane could both be referees in the same match, but they would figure it out this week. The announcers egged on Bryan and asked if he even told Shane he was making himself referee. Byan downplayed it and just wanted to make sure the right team won. Bryan said he can relate to Owens and Zayn, but also mentioned rooming with Nakamura years ago and considered him a friend.
After a break, Bryan recalled a story of Owens trying to gouge his eye out in a match when he had a detached retina. Bryon for some reason (perhaps because someone was yelling in his ear) said this didn’t happen in WWE. Bryan didn’t care and said it still happened. Corey Graves said Saxton didn’t have much life experience outside of being at that commentary table.
(There was some more interesting stuff from Bryan, and if you’ve missed him on Talking Smack and missed this, maybe check this out.)
Nakamura made a comeback and Bryan put over his knee and leg strikes. Owens tried a forearm but Nakamura ducked and Owens knocked out the referee. Bryan jumped off commentary and put on the referee’s shirt. Nakamura hit a leg strike but Owens kicked out at Bryan’s two count.
Zayn and Orton got into it after Zayn tried to interfere. Zayn poked him in the eye and tossed him into the ring post. Nakamura knocked Zayn off the apron, but Owens used the distraction to hit a pop-up powerbomb for the win. Byron tried to claim this meant Bryan would screw over Nakamura and Orton at Clash of Champions.
Afterwards, Renee tried to interview Owens and Zayn. Owens grabbed the mic and called them the best in all of WWE. He kissed Zayn on the cheek and led a “Yep!” chant.
Final Thoughts --
This show was alright, but I’m definitely intrigued by the main storyline. Bryan counting the fall for Owens seemed like the finish they were saving for Sunday, but they did it here instead. It’s also amazing to see how well Styles comes across as champion. He toyed with the heels and easily outsmarted them.
The rest of the show was filler, with bad finishes and pacing. This was a two-hour show that probably could’ve been an hour. The women’s match and tag match were both cut in half by commercial breaks. There was well over 30 minutes left in the show when they announced the main event was coming up next, but less than 20 minutes left by the time it started.