We are just three weeks away from the next WWE PPV event, as SmackDown will present Clash of Champions on December 17 in Boston, Massachusetts.
So did WWE go all in to start building momentum for their upcoming PPV show? In a word, no.
This week's show felt a bit like treading water. There were two big segments on the show and two relatively good matches. But many of the segments felt like the performers were just going through the motions, waiting for a later show to hit the throttle.
So what did we learn on this week's show? What were the two previously mentioned big segments? Read on for this week's WWE SmackDown Live highlights.
So things aren't getting any more interesting in the WWE Smackdown tag team title picture.
The obvious fresh title match-up remains Chad Gable and Shelton Benjamin taking on the Usos for the belts. These two teams have interacted now for several weeks in a row, working a combination of matches. However this week, we got a bit different spin as New Day took on Gable and Benjamin while the Usos did guest commentary.
If we actually are going to get Gable and Benjamin challenging, that may have been delayed a bit as the speed combination of Kofi Kingston and Xavier Woods defeated them clean this week, assuring the New Day of a future tag team title shot. Because we haven't seen that match enough times already, right?
Either way, the match was pretty darn good and turned into the Xavier Woods show. He hit an awesome drop kick off the top rope, hit a crazy flip over the top rope to the outside just prior to the conclusion of the match, and nailed the deciding maneuver when he came off the top rope with a leg drop that lead to the pinfall.
Another obvious move in the tag team ranks became reality this week as Mojo Rawley turned on Zack Ryder, splitting up the vaunted Hype Bros in the process.
Following a brief squash by the Bludgeon Brothers (who have one of the best entrances and presentations in the wrestling business), Mojo and Zack were being interviewed in the middle of the ring. Zack started talking about how they were top contenders a year ago, the landscape has changed, and they've hit rock bottom. At that point, Rawley attacked him from behind with a big right hand.
This lead to some kicks to the fallen Ryder and some more punches as Rawley screamed "The Hype Bros are dead! You hear me?!"
The U.S. title picture could use some more contenders, so hopefully one of these guys is elevated following their pending feud. WWE left a huge opportunity on the table with Ryder several years back when he got himself over with his YouTube series, only to be made to look like an incompetent geek by John Cena (who stole his on-air girlfriend at the time, Eve Torres). Will he finally be given his due, or will this be Rawley's chance to shine?
Following their impressive debut last week, Ruby Riot, Liv Morgan, and Sarah Logan were back this week for their first initial match. The bout was billed as the SmackDown women putting aside their differences to defend the brand's honor, with Natalya teaming with Charlotte and Naomi.
Riot's group was also officially dubbed the Riott Squad, and it didn't take long for the shaky alliance of Natalya, Charlotte, and Naomi to disintegrate.
So much for teamwork! @NatByNature has ABANDONED her team leaving @MsCharlotteWWE and @NaomiWWE to fend for themselves against the #RiottSquad! #SDLive @YaOnlyLivvOnce @sarahloganwwe @RubyRiotWWE pic.twitter.com/e4sbPUazzN— WWE (@WWE) November 29, 2017
Natalya walked out on her teammates, leaving them to fend for themselves. Shortly thereafter, Naomi was taken out on the outside by the steel steps and sold an injury (she was eventually taken out on a stretcher). As medical personnel tended to Naomi on the outside (with the fans completely distracted in the process, virtually ignoring the action in the ring), the Riott Squad got the easy victory over Charlotte.
The only match announced for Clash of Champions continues to be AJ Styles defending his WWE title against former champion Jinder Mahal.
WWE continued building toward the match on Tuesday night by having Styles wrestle both of the Singh brothers. Before the bout, Mahal jumped Styles from behind, giving the two Singhs the advantage early.
Though not very appealing on the surface, Styles hit some pretty awesome moves during the bout, including a Styles Clash on Samir off of the second rope on top of Sunil (who was on the mat below) to finish them off.
After the match, Mahal tried to attack Styles again but he escaped this time. Jinder then took his frustrations out on the Singhs, attacking them both in his frustration.
The bout at Clash of Champions is supremely interesting because it will tell us a lot about where WWE is headed for WrestleMania season. Should Styles retain, we could very well be headed to the dream scenario of Styles/Nakamura at WrestleMania. However, if Mahal retains, it only means WWE is hell bent on the match that was planned months ago: Cena vs. Mahal for the title at Mania.
The main event this week featured Randy Orton taking on Kevin Owens in a No DQ match. Oh, and Sami Zayn was barred from ringside. But what if he interefered anyway? It's a No DQ match so...moving on.
The match quickly turned to the ringside area. Following Orton going for an early RKO and Owens dodging it and rolling to the outside, Orton followed him out there, grabbed a kendo stick from under the ring, and proceeded to beat Owens all over the ringside area with it.
The rest of the match went back and forth, with Sami Zayn finally coming out and hitting Orton in the stomach with a steel chair in the stomach. That wasn't the end though. Back in the ring, Orton came back. He hit his second rope DDT and went for the RKO, but Owens pushed him off and nailed a big superkick. This lead to Owens executing a frog splash from the top rope and getting the pinfall, clean in the middle of the ring.