This week’s WWE Smackdown episode was the taped Christmas Eve special with the Smackdown Women’s Title on the line, plus a 12-Man Gauntlet match.
I want to wish a Merry Christmas to those that celebrate as I write this on Christmas Eve. My family usually never does anything on Christmas Eve, so it’s just a day of rest and relaxation before the big day hits. That usually features seeing a lot of family (about 40+ people most years), but we are dialing it down due to all the virus-related happening in the world. Be smart and safe. I don’t really take days off from writing although I have written less in the last couple of days. I plan on posting the WWE Johnny Awards on Tuesday (or Wednesday if I’m not done on Tuesday), then the regular reviews next week and reviewing the WWE Day 1 PPV live on New Year’s Day. Bring it on!
As for Smackdown, it was taped last week and we posted results on the site, so I know what happened. That shouldn’t affect my enjoyment of the show. The Christmas episode is traditionally light-hearted and fun for the most part. The big story from last week’s Smackdown saw Roman Reigns “fire” Paul Heyman for not being loyal to him while Brock Lesnar got his hands on Reigns and delivered multiple F5’s to him.
There is not a new Smackdown show planned for next Friday on New Year’s Eve. It’s a taped show with highlights of the last year. I guess I’ll review what will air, but this is it for the last new Smackdown episode this year with matches.
From the Allstate Arena in Chicago, Illinois, this is Smackdown for episode #1166. Follow me on Twitter @johnreport. Let’s get to it.
The opening video package showed highlights of last week’s Smackdown showing Roman Reigns firing Paul Heyman. Moments later, Brock Lesnar attacked The Usos as well as Reigns. Lesnar stood tall after two F5’s to Reigns.
Interview with Paul Heyman
A sitdown interview was shown from “Earlier Today” with Paul Heyman seated across from Smackdown interviewer Kayla Braxton. It was noted by Kayla that it’s been one week since Paul was fired by Roman Reigns publicly and Paul said she was getting that dig in there by saying publicly. Heyman said he told the truth to Roman Reigns even though it was a truth that he didn’t want to hear. Heyman said because he told the truth, he got fired publicly, smashed in the face publicly, embarrassed and humiliated publicly. Heyman said he paid a price for telling Reigns the truth. Kayla asked if Paul regretted telling the truth and Paul said no. Heyman said that his role as Special Counsel was to tell Roman these uncomfortable truths. Heyman said that after he was fired, all of his belongings were tossed out of the locker room of Reigns like some rookie. Heyman said that his job was to protect the championship and Reigns is the greatest Universal Champion of all time, but he needs to be protected from Brock Lesnar. Kayla asked what’s next for Heyman. Paul said he didn’t know what was next. Paul said he could go to NXT to cherry pick a top talent and start over again…not at this stage. Heyman said that he believed in Roman Reigns. Without that job, maybe it’s time for him to acknowledge that his career is most likely over. Heyman took a deep breath and that ended it.
Analysis: Great performance as usual by Heyman. I noted in last week’s Smackdown review that I think Heyman is going to help Reigns beat Lesnar so that Heyman gets his job back with Reigns. I realize it’s a popular prediction, but it also makes sense. Heyman is too good to keep off TV for that long. They could make him the advocate or manager of another wrestler on any WWE show with Heyman even mentioning NXT although he dismissed that idea. I just think it makes too much sense to keep Heyman with Reigns even after this firing angle. Anyway, I thought it was smart to start with an interview like this.
A graphic reminded us that Roman Reigns defends the Universal Championship against Brock Lesnar at Day 1 on New Year’s Day in Atlanta.
The commentary team of Michael Cole and Pat McAfee were at ringside to call the action. They plugged what’s coming up later including the 6-Man Tag Miracle on 34th Street Fight, a 12 Days of Christmas 12-Man Gauntlet Match and the SD Women’s Title match was up first.
Charlotte Flair made her entrance as the Smackdown Women’s Champion. There were Christmas trees and presents all around the entrance area. Toni Storm entered as the opponent. They showed a clip of Toni getting a pin over Charlotte on Smackdown last week, so that brings us to this match after a break.
Smackdown Women’s Championship: Charlotte Flair vs. Toni Storm
Storm with forearms, Flair with a kick and Storm hit a cross body block. Storm with an armdrag followed by a basement dropkick, so Flair bailed to the floor to regroup. When Flair got back in the ring, Storm hit a cross body block again. Flair sent Storm into the turnbuckle a few times. Flair with her legs around the head followed by repeated slamming into the mat. Flair held Storm in a submission for about a minute, then Flair sent Storm across the ring and Flair did taunting. Storm got an inside cradle for two and then a headbutt. Storm charged, but Flair avoided her and Flair hit a boot to the face to knock Storm out of the ring.
Flair remained in control as she taunted the crowd that was booing her. Flair yelled at Storm: “You think you’re ready for me?” Flair slapped Storm repeatedly and Flair hit a clothesline for two. Storm got some offense going with a suplex and a running hip attack. Flair with an elbow followed by a forearm to the head. Storm avoided a knee drop and Storm hit a bridging German Suplex for two. It sounded like they were using fake crowd noise a lot, but I’m not sure. Flair with a backbreaker and then she sent Storm into the turnbuckle. Flair went up top, she took way too long, it was the Andrade spot with the double moonsault and she barely touched Storm the second time, but it got a couple of two counts. Flair went for Natural Selection, Storm avoided it and hit a German Suplex. Flair came back with a Figure Four Leglock without going to the Figure Eight position, so Storm turned it over and Storm used the rope to break free. Flair with a boot to the face followed by a kick to the head while Storm was on the apron. They were on the floor with Storm shoving Flair into the ring post. Back in the ring, Flair got a two count using the ropes but the referee saw it and made Flair take her hand off the rope. They exchanged pin attempts with inside cradles, Flair turned it to take control and that was enough to get the win after 15 minutes.
Winner by pinfall: Charlotte Flair
Analysis: *** This was good for the most part, but I think it would have been better if Storm got more offense. I kept waiting for the babyface comeback from Storm and then they got into the cradle reversal spot. The finish was done in a way to make it look like it was close with Flair beating Storm using an inside cradle counter instead of one of Flair’s finishing moves. It seemed like they were piping in crowd noise to make it seem like the fans cared more. Anyway, the story ended up being that Storm wasn’t good enough to get the win, but maybe she’ll get another shot down the road.
A replayed aired of last week with Drew McIntyre getting his sword back from the desk while also scaring away Happy Corbin and Madcap Moss.
Drew McIntyre walked up to the New Day with Drew said it was a joyous occasion because Drew Day was back together. King Woods talked about how they were going to be Smackdown Tag Team Champions again. Drew said he was a bit sad because he might beat Madcap so bad that he won’t make Day 1. Kofi said that he’ll make sure it’s a season’s beating. They all laughed together.
Rick Boogs made his entrance on the electric guitar with the Intercontinental Champion Shinsuke Nakamura. That led to dancing Pat McAfee on the commentary table. They will be ringside for the gauntlet match.
A Progressive Match Flo replay was shown from two weeks ago when Xia Li helped Naomi fight off three heels. Last week, Natalya said if Xia Li steps up to her again then she’ll need a protector
Xia Li did a pre-tape promo saying she won’t fear a woman like Natalya, she will fight her. Li said it’s because she’s the protector. Some fake crowd noise led to cheers on the broadcast.
12 Days of Christmas 12-Man Gauntlet Match
The winner of this match gets an Intercontinental Title Match at Day 1. If you win, you move on. I’ll have one rating for the entire match. Nakamura and Boogs were watching from ringside.
Gauntlet Match #1: Angel vs. Mansoor
Mansoor with an atomic drop two times in a row followed by a dropkick. Mansoor to the middle turnbuckle, but Angel tripped him up. Angel with a running boot to Mansoor and a dropkick. Mansoor got some offense to knock Angel down, then Mansoor up top with nothing and Angel hit a superkick. Angel hi the Wing Clipper for the pinfall win.
Angel defeated Mansoor
Gauntlet Match #2: Angel vs. Erik
It’s Erik of the Viking Raiders. Angel met him with a kick while on the floor. Angel went to the middle turnbuckle, Angel went for a moonsault, Erik caught him and hit a body slam on the floor.
Erik was in control using his power with a knee to the face log with a loud leg slap as usual. Erik with a German Suplex for two. Angel avoided a charge by Erik, he sent Erik into the mat and Angel hit the Wing Clipper for the pinfall win.
Angel defeated Erik
Gauntlet Match #3: Angel vs. Shanky
Angel with a dropkick, but Shanky came back with a clothesline. Shanky with a chop to the chest along with a hiptoss across the ring. Shanky with a slam off the shoulders and he slammed Angel. It was like a Wasteland that Wade Barrett used, but not the same thing. Shanky pinned Angel.
Shanky defeated Angel
Gauntlet Match #4: Shanky vs. Ivar
Ivar charged with a shoulder tackle, but Shanky came back with a clothesline. Ivar with corner clotheslines and a running splash against the turnbuckle. Ivar went up top and hit a Viking Splash on Shanky for the pinfall win.
Ivar defeated Shanky
Sheamus made his entrance as the next man in the match.
Gauntlet Match #5: Ivar vs. Sheamus
Sheamus took it to Ivar with punches, but Ivar came back with punches to knock Sheamus over the top to the floor.
Analysis: They were at four eliminations after about 12 minutes, so there were quick eliminations.
Sheamus was in control of Ivar with a chinlock. Ivar broke free with two shoulder tackles, Sheamus got a boot to the face and Ivar hit a sidewalk slam. Ivar hit a running cross body block on a seated Sheamus. Ivar did the “Raid” chant with the crowd. Ivar wanted a slam, Sheamus with an elbow and Ivar sat on Sheamus while near the turnbuckle. Ivar went up top, Sheamus with punches, then Ivar fought back, Sheamus missed a clothesline when Ivar ducked, but then Sheamus back with a Brogue Kick for the pinfall win.
Sheamus defeated Ivar
Gauntlet Match #6: Sheamus vs. Drew Gulak
As soon as Gulak got into the ring, Sheamus hit him with a Brogue Kick and pinned him. That was about five seconds.
Sheamus defeated Drew Gulak
Gauntlet Match #7: Sheamus vs. Cesaro
Cesaro had his ribs taped up to sell previous attacks from Sheamus and Ridge Holland. They brawled in the aisle a bit, then into the ring and Cesaro hit a cross body block off the top. Sheamus hit a belly to back suplex on Cesaro. Sheamus with forearms to the back where the bandages are. Cesaro tried to get back into it with a boot to the face followed by a missile dropkick off the middle ropes. Cesaro applied the Cesaro Swing to Sheamus with the fans cheering for it. That sounded like legit cheers. Cesaro with a running uppercut and a discus clothesline. Ridge Holland was on the apron to distract, Sheamus with a kick to the ribs of Cesaro and Sheamus with a Brogue Kick to the face for the pinfall win. It was about 30 minutes into the match at that point.
Sheamus defeated Cesaro
Analysis: That was a fun matchup as usual. It’s frustrating that Cesaro isn’t pushed more. The fans clearly like the guy.
Gauntlet Match #8: Sheamus vs. Ricochet
Ricochet was next with Sheamus greeting him with punches, but then Ricochet hit a cross body block over the top to the floor. Ricochet followed up with a springboard moonsault off the top rope onto a standing Sheamus so Ricochet landed on his head! Ouch. That looked great in terms of his height on the leap. Sheamus was okay despite Ricochet landing on his head. They went to a break.
The match continued with Ricochet charging right into Sheamus, who caught him with a backbreaker. Sheamus with a chinlock leading into a powerslam for two. Sheamus worked over Ricochet with repeated forearms to the chest while Ricochet was up against the ropes. Sheamus went up top, he jumped off looking for a clothesline, but Ricochet turned it around with a DDT for two. Ricochet sent Sheamus into the middle turnbuckle followed by a springboard crossbody block. Ricochet went for a springboard moonsault, but Sheamus got the knees up to block and got an inside cradle for two. Ricochet sent Sheamus’ throat into the top rope, then a jumping kick and Ricochet hit a springboard splash. Ricochet hit a standing moonsault for a two count. Ricochet went up top, Ridge Holland was on the apron again to distract and Sheamus hit Ricochet with a knee that sent Ricochet into the barricade. Back in the ring, Cesaro showed up at ringside and shoved Holland into a camera guy at ringside. Ricochet with a dropkick to Sheamus’ back to send him into the turnbuckle and then Ricochet a ROLLUP OF DEATH~! on Sheamus to pin him.
Ricochet defeated Sheamus
Sheamus hit a Brogue Kick on Ricochet after the match. Humberto was next and he was happy about the kick.
Analysis: Sheamus had a great performance in the match. He carried that middle portion of the match. It was also a good spot to have Cesaro get payback by costing Sheamus a win. Well done.
Gauntlet Match #9: Ricochet vs. Humberto
Humberto with a dropkick, then he went up top for a moonsault, but Ricochet got his feet up to block. Ricochet hit the Recoil for the pinfall win.
Ricochet defeated Humberto
Gauntlet Match #10: Ricochet vs. Jinder Mahal
Mahal with a slam on the ring apron. Mahal hit a belly to back suplex for two. Mahal went for The Khallas, but Ricochet countered with a forward roll and sat on top to pin him. That was a cool counter. It was about 33 minutes into the match.
Ricochet defeated Jinder Mahal
Sami Zayn was up next as the 12th and final man in the Gauntlet Match.
The winner of this final fall in the gauntlet match gets a shot at the Intercontinental Title.
Gauntlet Match #11: Ricochet vs. Sami Zayn
Zayn hit a clothesline for a two count. Zayn did some trash talking while on the middle rope, he kicked Ricochet down and Ricochet was back with a hurricanrana for two. That was nearly a three count. Very close. Ricochet got some offense going with punches/kicks, Zayn avoided a kick and Ricochet countered a slam into a cross body block cover for two. Ricochet with a running dropkick, Zayn avoided it and Zayn hit the Blue Thunder Bomb for a two count. Zayn went for a suplex, Ricochet countered with elbows to the head and Zayn caught Ricochet with an Exploder Suplex into the turnbuckle. Zayn charged ahead, but Ricochet hit a superkick to block. Ricochet had Zayn on his shoulders leading to Ricochet leading to a jumping kick to the head. Ricochet went up top, Zayn went after him on the turnbuckle and Ricochet knocked him down with punches. Ricochet jumped off the top with an SSP, but Zayn got the knees up. Zayn with an Exploder Suplex into the turnbuckle followed by the Helluva Kick on Ricochet for the pinfall win. That match went 41 minutes.
Sami Zayn defeated Ricochet
Winner of the 12 Days of Christmas 12 Man Gauntlet Match: Sami Zayn
Analysis: ***1/4 It was a fun gauntlet match especially after Sheamus got in there and he carried the match along with Ricochet after that. I liked that choice as the winner of the match. Zayn deserves it and I think he should win the title too. It is rumored that Zayn signed a new contract with WWE recently, so I can see why they are pushing him and they should do that anyway because Sami is awesome. I was really impressed by Ricochet in the match not because I never see him wrestle like that, but because it’s so rare that he gets to be in the ring for that long. I liked it a lot.
Post match, Zayn celebrated the big win while having a staredown with Nakamura at ringside with Nakamura holding up his IC Title.
They’ll look back on the Paul Heyman situation after a break.
Paul Heyman Tribute Video
A video aired about Paul Heyman’s career going back over 30 years in pro wrestling. The video talked about how Paul was a celebrated mind in sports entertainment as a manager, promoter and advocate. They showed Heyman with the Dangerous Alliance in WCW with Steve Austin, Rick Rude and others. It was onto ECW where Heyman’s creative style led to the Attitude Era. When Heyman lost with ECW and The Alliance in 2001, it was the last we saw Heyman until 2002 when he came back with Brock Lesnar. They mentioned Lesnar’s eight times as WWE & Universal Champion while showing clips of Lesnar with Heyman. When Drew McIntyre beat Brock Lesnar at WrestleMania 36 in 2020, people thought that was the end of Heyman. However, later that year he was brought to island of relevancy in the summer of 2020 as the Special Counsel to the Tribal Chief Roman Reigns. That led to the last few months of issues between Reigns and Lesnar with Heyman caught in the middle. Reigns fired Heyman last week as mentioned earlier. They showed the clip of Heyman saying he should acknowledge that his career is most likely over.
Analysis: This was cool. They covered his career well. If you’re wondering, they did not show his run managing CM Punk for obvious reasons. That was like a Paul Heyman Hall of Fame video that was more about trying to push the current angle. As I said earlier, I think he’ll be back with Roman Reigns soon.
The ring was surrounded by the Christmas trees, presents, food and other items that are part of the next match.
Madcap Moss entered with Happy Corbin. The Usos were next as the Smackdown Tag Team Champions and they’re teaming with Moss in this match.
The New Day duo of King Xavier Woods and Kofi Kingston made their entrance to Xavier’s new song. Drew McIntyre was next with his sword Angela joining him at ringside.
Miracle on 34th Street Fight: Drew McIntyre, Kofi Kingston & King Xavier Woods vs. Madcap Moss, Jimmy Uso & Jey Uso
It’s a Street Fight with no rules, yet it’s starting with Woods facing off against Jey. You don’t need to tag in a Street Fight rules match. Woods with a spinning forearm on Jey. Kofi tagged in with a running kick, Woods with a clothesline and Kofi with a splash off the ropes. Jimmy with punches, then Moss tagged in with a knee to the ribs and Kofi break free to bring in Drew. Moss got some punches, but Drew hit a clothesline. Drew hit a Future Shock DDT for a two count with The Usos breaking it up. The four guys on the apron got into a brawl, so they went fighting to eh back. Drew had Moss on his shoulders, Corbin with a candy cane kendo stick and delivered several kendo stick shots to the back. The Usos and New Day were fighting by the entrance with Jey tossing Woods into some presents and trees. That led to a break.
The match continued with the wrestlers fighting all around the building. The Usos were throwing presents at Kofi and Woods on the floor. Back in the ring, Moss hit a suplex on Corbin. Jey had a drink of eggnog as well. Moss sent Drew into the turnbuckle. The Usos each hit Kofi with trees at the same time. The Usos ran at Woods with two trees and knocked Woods down. Drew charged at Moss, who knocked him down with a kick. Moss wanted a suplex, but Drew turned it into a suplex on his own. Woods with a kick on the floor while some cookies went flying. Woods with a spin kick into a chair on Jimmy. Jey hit Woods with a superkick. Kofi was in the ring with Jimmy leading to punches, kicks and a Boom Drop double leg drop on Jimmy. Kofi went for Trouble in Paradise, Jimmy ducked leading to a boot to the face and Kofi jumped off the top with a headscissors. Kofi with a foot stomp to the chest. Woods and Kofi sent both Usos out of the ring. Kofi went up top, he had the cookies on plates and hit both Usos with them. Moss punched Drew while doing some trash talk, but then Drew made the comeback with two clotheslines. Drew with two belly to belly suplexes across the ring followed by a neckbreaker. Corbin grabbed Drew’s foot to prevent a move, so Drew chased Corbin out of the ring. Kofi went up behind Corbin and dumped some eggnog on his head. Drew got two pitchers of eggnog and poured them on Corbin and Moss at ringside. Woods kicked Corbin into the commentary table. Back in the ring, McIntyre hit a Claymore Kick on Moss for the pinfall win after 13 minutes.
Winners by pinfall: Drew McIntyre, Kofi Kingston & King Xavier Woods
Analysis: **1/2 It was mostly a comedy match with the weapons being used along with eggnog pouring to generate some laughs. It was what it needed to be with the faces getting the big win and making the crowd happy. Drew pinning Moss was no surprise since Drew is pushed heavily. Moss did get a decent amount of offense in the match, but it was not like he was a threat to win. My main complaint is that they spent a few minutes doing tags in a match where it’s completely unnecessary. I don’t understand how they even start a match like that. Anyway, the fans seemed to like the match, so that’s a good thing.
Post match, Drew and The New Day tossed some merchandise items into the crowd. There were action figures, t-shirts and more. They even threw a present at Moss to knock him down. Cole plugged next week’s New Year’s special. More presents were thrown into the crowd. That was it.
Three Stars of the Show
- Sami Zayn
- Charlotte Flair
6.25 out of 10
Last week: 7.25
2021 Average: 6.94
It was okay. Just an average show. Easy show to watch. I don’t think the rating matters that much when it’s a basic holiday episode like this.
I think having a show with three matches (the gauntlet counts as one) was smart. It took up a lot of time to have the gauntlet match, the Women’s Title match was solid and then the main event was a fun comedic match with the babyfaces winning to make people happy on the Christmas show. Pretty simple.
The next WWE PPV is Day 1 on January 1, 2022 from Atlanta. Here’s what we know so far:
WWE Universal Championship: Roman Reigns (c) vs. Brock Lesnar
WWE Championship: Big E (c) vs. Seth Rollins vs. Kevin Owens vs. Bobby Lashley
Raw Women’s Championship: Becky Lynch (c) vs. Liv Morgan
Edge vs. The Miz
Smackdown Tag Team Championships: The Usos (Jimmy & Jey Uso) (c) vs. The New Day (King Xavier Woods & Kofi Kingston)
Drew McIntyre vs. Madcap Moss
You can watch WWE Day 1 streaming LIVE on New Year’s Day, Saturday Jan. 1 at 8 ET / 5 PT on WWE Peacock in the United States and WWE Network everywhere else.
Thanks for reading. Please check out my reviews of every WWE PPV ever listed in order. Go Los Angeles Rams, Toronto Raptors and Toronto Maple Leafs. My contact info is below.