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Posted in: The Eternal Optimist
The Eternal Optimist Presents: Clash of Champions - Why You Should Care About Every Match on the Show
By Dave Fenichel
Dec 15, 2017 - 3:39:01 PM

Hi kids.

I’ve decided to take a pause from my Royal Rumble countdown series because Clash of Champions is this weekend. If you ask the majority of our community, they’ll gladly tell you that this is the worst Pay Per View of all time. Allow me to instead be the beacon of light on an otherwise gloomy outlook.

Is this the best card the WWE has ever put together? Of course not. However, there’s a reason to care about every match on the card. I’m here to give you that reason. Without further ado:

The Eternal Optimist Presents: Clash of Champions – Why You Should Care About Every Match on the Card.

Zack Ryder v Mojo Rawley.

Sure, this match feels like death spot or preshow fodder, but it’s important for both men.

Mojo Rawley looks and acts like the type of guy who could appeal to kids and other mainstream fans as a larger than life figure. Some of you hate him and that’s ok. When Steve Austin sees potential in someone, I hold that in much higher regard than the collective opinions of fellow keyboard warriors such as myself.

It looked like the WWE was ready to pull the trigger on a big push after having him win the Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal at Wrestlemania 33. They capitalized on his friendship with New England Patriots’ tight end Rob Gronkowski and it seemed like he was off to the races. It just hasn’t happened for him. He has been kept off television for lengthy stretches of time and hasn’t been involved in a meaningful angle since.

This is the first time since Wrestlemania that the WWE has looked to push him in any way. Smackdown is a brand devoid of main event level superstars at the moment, so the opportunity for him to ascend up the card is there. I’m curious to see if he’ll take advantage of it.

For Zack Ryder, it’s now or never. He has everything it takes – a great look, solid in ring skills and a big personality. He created something out of nothing for himself when he used his YouTube show to get over despite being a worthless jobber at the time. People often forget that during the height of CM Punk and Daniel Bryan, the WWE filmed a segment to open Raw that had Punk, Bryan and Ryder in the ring together standing tall.

Instead of rising to the levels that Punk and Bryan achieved, he has repeatedly had his legs cut out from under him. The WWE continues to dangle the carrot using Ryder in a meaningful way, the fans continue to get behind it and it continues to dissipate quickly.

At some point, Zack Ryder becomes Dolph Ziggler – a wrestler that the fans love but whose pushes are no longer taken seriously due to a complete lack of belief in that said pushes will actually lead to anything. I believe that point is here. It’s put up or shut up time for Zack Ryder.

Although not a top billed match, both Zack Ryder and Mojo Rawley are in desperate need of a big performance on Sunday. Will they provide one, and more importantly – will it lead to the bigger and better things most think they are capable of? I’m curious to find out.

Charlotte v Natalya – Lumberjack Match.

If you’re looking for me to make an argument that this is a competitive match with an outcome that is in doubt, you are barking up the wrong tree. Charlotte is going to emerge victorious. Natalya was rewarded for her years of hard work with a short championship run, but the reality of her situation is that she’s not championship material. I’m happy that she got her moment in the sun, but that’s not a path I can see the WWE going down again.

On the other hand, there are several different directions that the WWE can go with Charlotte’s next feud. I’m interested in all of them. You’ve got a new group with a lot of momentum in Ruby Riot, Sonya DeVille and Liv Morgan. The lumberjack stipulation lends itself to that group doing a number on Charlotte and setting up the next feud. While I’m not all that high on any of the three women individually, they all provide fresh matchups for Charlotte. I wouldn’t mind seeing a multi-PPV feud that saw Charlotte work her way through Riot’s underlings only to eventually succumb to Ruby. If done correctly, that problem could last through Wrestlemania.

On the other hand, there’s the white elephant in the room – Carmella and her Money in the Bank briefcase. The WWE didn’t strike while the iron was hot, and her act has cooled off considerably. However, Carmella showed herself to be more than capable when given a microphone and a meaningful amount of time to speak. I don’t think it would be particularly difficult to rekindle the heat she had should they decide to pull the trigger now. Once again, the Lumberjack stipulation lends itself well to a Money in the Bank cash in. First, Carmella will already be ring side. Second, the presence of The Riot Squad gives us a storyline that writes itself. Charlotte beats Natalya, The Riot Squad leaves her laying and Carmella picks up the pieces.

While the outcome is a foregone conclusion, the multitude of strong storylines that could and most likely will arise from this match are more than enough reason for you to tune in.

Breezango v The Bludgeon Brothers.

There are plenty of reasons to think that this match will be far more entertaining than it looks on paper. The Bludgeon Brothers are going to win. The Bludgeon Brothers are going to be dominant. If that offends you and you can’t see value on that basis alone, go ahead, skip down a few paragraphs and move onto the next match.

Here’s why I care. Breezango has a history of being entertaining in positions that they had no business adding value to. Does anyone remember their tag title match against The Usos that came out of nowhere? Everyone railed against that match and called it the worst tag title match in years. What was the end result? We were treated to the surprise undercard match of the year – a match full of comedic value. I see no reason why they can’t provide something similar on Sunday.

In addition, I’m loving what the WWE is doing with The Bludgeon Brothers. The WWE took a tag team that disbanded because they had nowhere else to go and made them interesting again. I love the new look. I love their move set. They have had great matches in the past with The Usos and I’m looking forward to a reincarnation of that rivalry down the road.

Both Tyler Breeze and FAHN…DAHN…….GO are great sellers and will make the already impressive tag team moves of Harper and Rowan look even better. Although not a competitive match, I’m expecting a very solid outing that will be worth seeing by all.

Baron Corbin v Bobby Roode v Dolph Ziggler.

Dolph Ziggler is the best worke…..

Ok. I’ll stop myself right there. Dolph Ziggler is the turd that I just can’t flush. I’ll own that one and not pretend like his presence here adds any value or makes me want to tune in.

On the other hand, I’m all about the pending feud between Baron Corbin and Bobby Roode. For starters, Baron Corbin is slowly rebuilding his credibility in the mid-card as U.S. champ. His Money in the Bank briefcase win and his subsequent main event push was a complete flop. He was killed dead by John Cena at Summerslam. However, all is not lost. He’s a guy who is a heel that gets booed. That’s a rarity in wrestling these days, and very valuable.

Then, we have Bobby Roode. Everyone has been up in arms about Roode not being pushed hard enough. I don’t understand the issue. We rant and rave when a wrestler is pushed to the max without having a proper build. We complain that the right way to do it is to give a wrestler a run with a mid-card title and allow the progression up the card to take a more natural path. That’s exactly what we’re getting here.

I have little doubt that the triple threat match on Sunday will be a nice conduit to a 1 on 1 feud between Corbin and Roode. Not only will this make for a solid U.S. title feud, but it will allow for BOTH wrestlers to slowly make their ascension to the main event without such rise feeling like it is forced upon the fan base.

The Usos v The New Day v Cable/Benjamin v Rusev/English.

For the life of me, I cannot comprehend why people are taking a giant dump on this match. Why would anyone be complaining about another match involving the two best tag teams of the last decade? It’s not as if people aren’t high on Gable and Benjamin, and we all know where everyone stands on the other team #RUSEVDAY.

I’m expecting another classic from a match that is merely a new wrinkle on a formula that works. When the New Day and the Usos gets together, the end result is never anything short of fantastic. The addition of the other two teams will only be a benefit, not a detriment.

Don’t be surprised if the fatal four way makes it on the short list of 2017 match of the year contenders.

Randy Orton and Shinsuke Nakamura v Kevin Owens & Sami Zayn.

Daniel Bryan. Will he or won’t he? I don’t think it takes a rocket scientist to see the writing on the wall here. Regardless of the angle that arises from this match, it’s hard to think that it isn’t the springboard to an in-ring return for Daniel Bryan.

Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn aren’t getting fired. They are in the midst of a main event level push. With Shane McMahon and Daniel Bryan as special guest referees, there are only two possible outcomes here. Daniel Bryan turns heel and joins Owens and Zayn, or Shane McMahon turns heel and does the same.

With either choice, you have to think the end game is Shane v Bryan. That’s incredibly exciting to me. There have been rumors of Bryan being medically cleared to wrestle, and this looks like a pretty good indicator that where there’s smoke, there’s fire. The impending in-ring return of Daniel Bryan is a shot of adrenaline to a product that most would argue needs one. This match looks like the jumping off point for what would be an incredible story.

A.J. Styles v Jinder Mahal.

Any hinderer of Jinder should be glued to their television and/or mobile devices during the main event. This world title match will tell us EVERYTHING we need to know about the direction that the WWE is heading in. The burning question – is the Jinder Mahal experiment over?

There are a lot of factors that would indicate that it is. The WWE took the title off him on short notice on a house show. Jinder has barely been on television. Jinder wasn’t booked for the Survivor Series, one of the four biggest shows of the year. The numbers in India don’t look good and the WWE more or less buried him in his “home country” (he’s Canadian dammit) by having him lay down for Triple H. All of these are strong indicators that the WWE doesn’t plan on putting the strap on Jinder again.

On the other hand, the WWE is notorious for making people look weak right before they are to be booked strongly in order to conceal their intentions. Could this be the case? Absolutely. Jinder has been a lightning rod for conversation and Vince McMahon has always shown a propensity for guys that stir dialogue.

If A.J. retains, you can put the nail in Jinder’s coffin. He’ll be out of the title picture and who knows where Smackdown goes. Maybe A.J. is a transitional champion and a vehicle to get the title on Kevin Owens and/or Sami Zayn. Maybe A.J. keeps the belt up to Wrestlemania and headlines against the likes of Shinsuke Nakamura or even Daniel Bryan himself. An A.J. retention on Sunday means a fresh direction for Smackdown. If Jinder wins the belt back, it’s more of the same and you can put Jinder Mahal v John Cena in pen as the Wrestlemania 34 co-headliner.

The future of the brand is at stake, and that should be more than enough reason for you to want to tune in and watch.

That’s a wrap kids. I hope that I have given you a glimmer of hope that Clash of Champions won’t be the mess many are predicting it to be. I’ll be back with another installment of my Royal Rumble countdown next week. Sound off below!

Facebook: David Fenichel

Twitter: @FFFightLeague

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