Styles defeated Mahal for the title on the Nov. 7 edition of SmackDown Live that aired from Manchester, England. Upon losing the title, Mahal was contractually guaranteed a rematch against Styles.
Mahal held the WWE Championship for nearly half of 2017 after defeating Randy Orton for the belt at Backlash in May. His reign started somewhat promisingly, since his victory over Orton cemented SmackDown Live's status as the "land of opportunity."
However, the momentum generated by Mahal's shocking win dissipated quickly as his matches followed an increasingly common blueprint: The Singh Brothers would interfere, which allowed Mahal hit the Khallas.
Mahal certainly isn't the first heel to require underhanded tactics in order to win, but his reliance on The Singh Brothers only served to make him look weaker rather than burnish his credentials as a bigger heel and a credible champion.
The fact Styles won the WWE Championship, after WWE had already begun promoting a champion vs. champion match between Mahal and Brock Lesnar at Survivor Series, seemingly indicated the company had cooled on Mahal as well.
The result of the title match at Clash of Champions could signal WWE's plans for WrestleMania 34 in April. Clash of Champions is the final pay-per-view before Royal Rumble, which is the first stop on the proverbial "Road to WrestleMania."