The Road to Wrestlemania Slows for Construction

[Updated] On the Road to Wrestlemania this week, the WWE stopped for gas, a Coke, and to hit the head. The matches that weren’t already made were strongly hinted at, and any late fireworks were saved for next week and the go-home shows before Wrestlemania comes to New Orleans April 8. Because of that, this week on Raw and Smackdown Live felt a bit like killing time. 

The WWE's Top "Smackdown" Story is Great and a Mess

As Smackdown Live approaches “Fastlane,” its best story is also its dumbest. The ongoing drama between Shane McMahon and Daniel Bryan is incomprehensible as they manipulate the careers of A.J. Styles, Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn. At the same time, Styles, Owens, and Zayn are three of the best performers on Smackdown Live—reliably creative on the mic and in the ring.

A.J. Styles Wins 2017

[Updated] The winner of 2017 was A.J. Styles. He consistently gave good matches and put his opponents over. He gave Jinder Mahal his best televised match of the year and made him compelling—something few other wrestlers did. He started the year as a heel and was a convincing heel, but once he turned face, he was a clear, convincing face. He took shortcuts when he was a bad guy and stayed on the straight and narrow as a face.

WWE's Clash of Champions Blurs the Line Between Heels and Faces

This weekend’s “Clash of Champions” pay-per-view highlighted the fluidity of face/heel designations in the WWE this year. The A.J. Styles/Jinder Mahal match was one of the strongest because the face/heel roles were clearest, while the Shane McMahon/Daniel Bryan match that took place while Randy Orton and Shinsuke Nakamura battled Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn was the hardest to parse because the roles are so unstable. Owens and Zayn are heels, but good guy GM and referee McMahon was clearly, obviously screwing them.

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