Welcome to this week’s Smackdown Live review on Christmas Day. I’m writing this on the morning after Christmas (Boxing Day here in Canada) after a fun time with my family full of food, some good presents (I love getting more LA Rams gear) and most importantly, the gifts I gave were well received. Christmas is over, so that fat dude named Santa Claus can go back to the North Pole for 364 days. I think Brock Lesnar is jealous of his schedule. Anyway, for Monday’s Raw I did a condensed review and for Smackdown I’ll do it in the regular format. This show was taped one week earlier in Fresno, California after the previous week’s Smackdown. Let’s get to the review.
Live (on tape) from Fresno, California (for the second week in a row), this is Smackdown Live for episode #1010. Follow me on Twitter @johnreport. If you want to support us at TJRWrestling, here’s a Donate Link for our Paypal where anything you send will go towards building the site. Thanks to Melo Man for the banner up top.
The arena was filled with Christmas trees and presents on the stage. R-Truth and Carmella made their entrance to start the show. You can tell WWE piped in crowd noise for their entrance. Truth was dressed like Santa and Carmella was dressed like a hot elf. The announce team of Tom Phillips, Corey Graves and Byron Saxton are the announce team. Saxton was too sick last week, yet he’s on this show that was taped on the same day.
Let’s Hear from Truthy Claus and Carmellfa
Truthy Claus welcomed us to a Christmas edition of Smackdown Live. Truth said that on their way back to the North Pole, they had to stop by Smackdown as a present to themselves and the reindeer were tired with Truth getting the names of the reindeer wrong. The piped in crowd noise was too much. Truth and Carmella did a “carol break” leading to bad singing.
Daniel Bryan showed up for the interruption with the WWE Title around his waist. Bryan said that as WWE Champion, he accepts that instead of spending time with his family, he has to be in this cesspool. Bryan noted that he wasn’t willing to accept the farce that is Truthy Claus. Bryan got into the ring to say that this is not the real Santa Claus. Bryan yelled “fickle” repeatedly.
Bryan said he would expose the real Santa Claus like he exposed AJ Styles. Bryan noted that over 40 years, our desires have cost us half of the coral reef on the planet. Bryan said because we want more, we get more islands of misfit trash. Bryan said that gets the glaciers melting, the sea levels rising and in 20 years, there will be no North Pole and no Santa Claus. That led to boos that were mostly piped in.
Truth called Bryan an angry little elf. Bryan said that he would expect nothing less from him because Truth’s entire career is a joke. Truth reminded Bryan that he’ll be number 30 in the Royal Rumble and after he wins, he’ll take the WWE Championship from Bryan…if he is still the champion at Mania.
Bryan asked Truth how he expects to win the Royal Rumble when he can’t even count to 30. Truth counted to seven leading to a seven-second dance break, so Bryan took out Truth with a chop block to the back of the leg. Bryan whipped Truth’s left knee into the ring post three times. Back in the ring, Bryan slapped on the heel hook submission on the left leg of Truth. The fans booed as Bryan let go momentarily, but then he stomped on Truth’s head. Bryan stopped, held up the WWE Title and his music played as he left.
Analysis: That was an effective way of getting over Bryan’s “new” heel persona by doing his ranting during Truth’s Christmas themed promo. I liked the way Bryan managed to do an entertaining promo ripping on Santa because he feels the North Pole is going to melt in 20 years. The attack by Bryan will likely set up a match with R-Truth possibly on next week’s Smackdown.
Up next is Mustafa Ali vs. Andrade “Cien” Almas.
The entrances took place for Andrade “Cien” Almas with Zelina Vega and Mustafa Ali. A clip aired of last week’s Smackdown with Ali pinning Daniel Bryan in a tag team match.
Andrade “Cien” Almas (w/Zelina Vega) vs. Mustafa Ali
Almas with a running dropkick to start the match followed by a running kick to the head. Almas worked over Ali with a chop to the chest. Ali got going with a running headscissors. Ali to the middle rope, Almas with a distraction and Almas shoved Ali over the top to the floor.
The match returned with Ali hitting a facebuster sending Almas’ face to the mat for a two count. Ali with a kick to the chest, kick to the face and Almas came back with a back elbow to the head. Almas up top, Ali with a dropkick, Almas tripped him up and hit a double foot stomp off the ropes for a two count. Almas went for a double knees attack, Ali moved, Almas hit the ropes and Ali hit a Satellite DDT. Ali went up top and hit the 054 splash for the pinfall win after nine minutes.
Winner by pinfall: Mustafa Ali
Analysis: **3/4 It was a competitive match between two young guys on the rise. They made the most of their time with a fast-paced match that didn’t have the headlocks or other rest holds that you might see in a Smackdown match. It was all about action. Ali getting the win makes sense since he’s getting a push after beating Daniel Bryan in a tag team match last week. Almas losing won’t hurt him too much, but he will need some meaningful wins soon.
Still to come: Miz TV with Shane McMahon as the guest and Jeff Hardy vs. Samoa Joe.
The Usos entered for an eight-man tag team match. This was taped first last week.
Samoa Joe did a promo seated in the locker room. He addressed Jeff Hardy while saying that hopes Jeff had a good holiday with the family. Joe said that he figured out that he was Jeff’s new addiction. Joe said that all that anger, obsession and pain that Jeff associates with Joe will fade away and said that it’s for Jeff’s own good.
The other tag teams made completed their entrances for the eight-man tag team main event. The New Day entered in some Christmas themed attire with Big E oiling himself up as he walked up to Graves on commentary. New Day got their own commentary table.
The Bar (Sheamus and Cesaro) and Sanity (Alexander Wolfe and Killian Dain) w/Eric Young vs. The Usos (Jimmy & Jey Uso) and Luke Gallows & Karl Anderson
Anderson was in control early with a spinebuster on Cesaro and then Jimmy tagged in with a running hip attack on Cesaro against the turnbuckle. Wolfe tagged in with a forearm, Dain tagged in, Jimmy avoided an attack, Young with a distraction and Dain hit a running cross body block on Jimmy.
The match returned with Dain hitting a clothesline on Jimmy. Wolfe hit a standing moonsault on Jimmy, which was impressive by him. Sheamus tagged in for a heel side with a headlock. Jimmy hit a jawbreaker on Sheamus and an enziguri kick. Cesaro tagged in, kicked Anderson off the apron and Jimmy hit a Samoan Drop on Cesaro. Gallows got the hot tag against Wolfe with a kick to the back of the head, a corner splash and a pumphandle slam for two with Dain breaking up the pin. Anderson with a neckbreaker on Dain. Cesaro with a forearm on Anderson and Gallows dumped Cesaro over the top. Sheamus tagged in, knee to the head of Gallows and Cesaro jumped off the middle ropes with a double team White Noise with the Usos breaking up the pin. The Usos hit superkicks on all the heels. Cesaro with a popup uppercut on one of the Usos. Gallows with a kick to Cesaro. Anderson tagged in and they hit the Magic Killer for the pinfall win after eight minutes.
Winners by pinfall: The Usos and Luke Gallows & Karl Anderson
Analysis: **1/2 It was a basic tag team match. The crowd must have been dead because the piped in crowd noise was so noticeable. The ending was good since it followed the usual formula of having everybody go in the ring, then got knocked out of the ring by one move and going to the finish. Putting over Gallows and Anderson is fine because they haven’t done much on SD Live, so it gives them some positive momentum.
The video aired promoting NXT stars Lars Sullivan, Lacey Evans, Nikki Cross, tag team Heavy Machinery and EC3 coming to Raw and Smackdown soon. Same video as last week that was shown twice on Raw this week.
Mustafa Ali was shown walking backstage with 205 Live wrestlers like Brian Kendrick, Akira Tozawa and Cedric Alexander congratulated him on the win. Shelton Benjamin showed up to welcome Ali to the Smackdown roster. Ali shook his hand, which led to Daniel Bryan attacking Ali with a forearm to the back and Bryan punched him before he was pulled off. The other guys checked on Ali, so Bryan went back towards him with a kick. Bryan said that Ali didn’t deserve to be here.
Analysis: It puts over Ali as a threat to the WWE Champion since Bryan did that cheap attack on him. This could also lead to Benjamin becoming an ally to Bryan since they set up Ali for that attack.
Miz TV with Shane McMahon
The Miz made his entrance for Miz TV. The ring had wreaths in it, Christmas lights and the Best in the World trophy was in there as well. Miz introduced the “best in the world” Shane McMahon as his guest. Shane made his entrance and joined Miz in the ring. The fans chanted “Shane O Mac” for him.
Miz asked Shane if he saw his tag match last week and Shane said it was impressive. Miz asked Shane to explain what they are doing on Smackdown Live. Shane said that the McMahons are in charge again, but they are not the story, it’s about what they are doing now. Shane said that they are listening to the fans saying they want new superstars, while noting they are on the way and new matchups are happening. Shane said that the WWE Universe will shape that narrative and create that narrative.
Miz noted that Smackdown didn’t suffer while Shane was the Commissioner like Raw did with Baron Corbin running Raw and noted that they had Paige. Miz had a question, he said he shouldn’t say it and Shane said he should say it. Miz noted that there are now four McMahons running the show it means Shane has time to join Miz to become the best tag team in the world. Miz said last week when he won with Mandy Rose against R-Truth and Carmella, it proved that Miz was successful.
Miz said that Shane has been asking why he was begging to be Shane’s partner. Miz said that this isn’t about sucking up or special treatment, this isn’t about him. Miz said it’s about his dad. Miz talked about his credentials in WWE listing all of his titles and accomplishments, but he has never heard his dad say he is proud of him. Miz said even at WrestleMania 27 when he beat John Cena, his dad said you should thank The Rock for helping him. Miz wondered if he had done enough. Miz claimed that his dad loved when Shane McMahon won the Best in the World trophy. Miz said that his dad wanted Miz to team with Shane because they would be the best team in the world. Miz noted that Shane said that the new WWE is about putting the company in the hands of the WWE Universe. Miz claimed that the decision isn’t ours to make, it is up to the fans. Miz asked the fans if they want to see Miz and Shane team up. There was a “yes” chant for them.
Shane talked about how everything that Miz said really resonated with him. Shane said Miz better not screw him or there will be major consequences, but let’s try this. The piped in crowd noise was cranked up. Miz led the crowd in “yes” chants as Miz and Shane held up the Best in the World trophy.
Analysis: The team is official after weeks of Miz pleading. That’s fine, I guess. It will probably lead to a long-term story with Miz facing Shane McMahon at WrestleMania if I had to guess. I don’t know if that’s where they are going for sure, but it makes sense that it will be a long-term storyline that will lead to something big like that.
Rusev and Lana did a backstage promo with Rusev noting that Christmas is also his birthday. Rusev said it’s not going to be just Christmas Day or his birthday, it’s going to be Rusev Day.
It’s Jeff Hardy vs. Samoa Joe up next.
Samoa Joe entered first. Jeff Hardy was next to a pretty good pop that was likely assisted by piped in noise.
Samoa Joe vs. Jeff Hardy
Hardy unloaded on Joe with punches to the head. Joe managed to come back with an elbow to the back. Jeff kicked Joe into the turnbuckle followed by a kick. Hardy ran right into a running back elbow from Joe, which led to a break.
The match returned with Hardy in control, but that didn’t last as Joe hit a jumping kick to the head while Hardy was against the turnbuckle. Joe grounded Hardy with a chinlock. Hardy came back with an atomic drop followed by a low dropkick. Hardy hit the Whisper in the Wind attack off the top rope for a two count. There is a sustained crowd noise during the match, but if you look at the fans, they aren’t reacting at all. Hardy hit a Twist of Fate and went up top, but Joe left the ring. Hardy attacked Joe out of the ring with a clothesline off the apron onto Joe on the floor. Hardy worked over Joe with knees to the upper body. The referee left the ring and called for the bell after about eight minutes. That means a DQ win for Joe.
Winner by disqualification: Samoa Joe
Analysis: **1/2 They had an average match. It’s a result that lets us know that this feud is going to continue. Most likely it will lead to another match on Smackdown. Hardy not letting up with the attack puts over the story that this has become a personal feud with Joe being successful at upsetting Hardy over the last several weeks.
Post match, Hardy grabbed Joe and tossed him over the announce table. Joe got back up and slapped on the Coquina Clutch submission move. Hardy sold it like he was passed out. Joe stood over the fallen Hardy as referees made him stop the attack.
Analysis: It was a simple post match angle to keep the feud going while putting more heat on Joe for being a ruthless heel that he is.
Shinsuke Nakamura did a promo with the US Title on his shoulder. He said Rusev’s going to get a knee to face for Christmas. That is up next.
The clip aired from “Fighting with my Family” about Paige’s journey to WWE with the scene of Paige’s character and her brother asking The Rock for advice.
Next week on Smackdown: The New Day’s New Year’s Celebration and John Cena returns to Smackdown Live.
The Usos were shown walking backstage talking about their win. Jimmy told Jey he’s going to find his wife and Jey left. The lovely Mandy Rose and Sonya Deville showed up. There was a mistletoe above them. Mandy said you know what this means. Jimmy said no. Naomi showed up to yell at the women and she tossed her shoe at Mandy. Jimmy and Naomi kissed under the mistletoe with each of them saying they loved eachother.
Analysis: There’s a rivalry brewing with Mandy and Naomi, so that continued with that brief segment with the story that Mandy is trying to make it personal by flirting with Naomi’s husband Jimmy Uso. I don’t mind stuff like that because it makes a feud feel more personal instead of just throwing a match out there.
Rusev made his entrance on his birthday along with his wife Lana by his side. She is rocking the short skirt the way she used to in her early days and it looks good. Shinsuke Nakamura made his entrance as the US Champion. They stood in the ring as ring announcer Greg Hamilton introduced both men.
United States Championship: Shinsuke Nakamura vs. Rusev (w/Lana)
Rusev worked over Nakamura with punches early on while Nakamura went for an armbar submission. Rusev bailed to the floor leading to a break.
The match returned with Nakamura in control with a headlock, which Rusev got out off and led to two suplexes. Rusev hit a belly to back suplex for two. The fans were chanting “Rusev Day/Nakamura” even though none of the fans on camera looked like they were saying anything. Nakamura with a running knee to the ribs of Rusev while Rusev was laying across the top rope. When Rusev tried to get going, Nakamura hit him with a knee to the ribs again. Nakamura slapped on an armbar into a triangle choke, but Rusev powered out of it. Rusev went for a suplex off the apron, but Nakamura hit a running kick to the head to knock Rusev out of the ring leading to another break.
Nakamura was still in control as he grabbed a front facelock. Rusev powered out of that. Nakamura with two kicks, Rusev caught the foot and hit two clotheslines. Rusev with a splash against the ropes, knees to the ribs and a fallaway slam that sent Nakamura across the ring. Rusev with a running back attack followed by a spinning heel kick for a two count. Rusev with a knee to the ribs followed by a kick to the head for two. Nakamura bailed to the floor, Rusev followed him out of the ring and whipped Nakamura into the barricade. Nakamura came back with an impressive kick to the head counter. Nakamura whipped Rusev into the steel steps and into the top of the announce table. Nakamura placed Rusev on the apron leading to a jumping knee to the back of the neck. Back in the ring, Nakamura with a jumping knee to the head. Nakamura charged in and Rusev hit a Machka Kick for the two count. Great nearfall with Nakamura selling that kick perfectly. It looked awesome. Rusev went for the Accolade submission, Nakamura fought out of it and applied for the triangle choke submission. Rusev powered out of the triangle choke with a Powerbomb. Nakamura sent Rusev shoulder first into the steel ring post, then a rollup and another knee to the head by Nakamura got a two count. Nakamura with a kick to the head, but Rusev came back with a clothesline. Rusev hit another Machka Kick for the pinfall win after 23 minutes of action.
Winner by pinfall and New United States Champion: Rusev
Analysis: ***1/2 That was a great match with a title change that was treated like a huge moment for Rusev. I like that they were given a lot of time to tell a story that made the title change mean more. If a guy wins a title in a ten-minute match that’s fine, but going over twenty minutes make it feel like a bigger deal. Nakamura dominated most of it, Rusev made the big comeback and the last few minutes were excellent with some believable nearfall moments as well. Nakamura couldn’t connect with the Kinshasa throughout the match, so Rusev capitalized on that and got the win. Good stuff here.
Rusev was handed the US Title while his lovely life Lana was excited about the win. The fans were cheering as replays aired showing what happened. They celebrated with the title as “Rusev Day” chants filled the arena.
AJ Styles was shown walking backstage and he walked into a room with WWE Chairman Vince McMahon with AJ mentioning that Vince wanted to see him. Vince asked who he is. AJ said he’s AJ Styles, the Phenomenal One, the 2-time WWE Champion and Smackdown Live is the house that AJ Styles built. Vince said that if this was the house that he built, why isn’t he competing in his own house tonight and why is Daniel Bryan competing there? Vince said he’s the “new” Daniel Bryan and Vince wants to see the “real” AJ Styles. Vince talked about how champions become complacent, earn their money and then go home. Vince told AJ if he harnasses everything that AJ has inside of him, he’ll terrorize the entire locker room while noting that there’s an animal inside of Styles ready to come out. Vince said he wants to see that animal, so Vince slapped AJ on the side of the head. AJ fired back with a punch to the head! AJ stood over a fallen Vince and yelled. Styles was helped out of the room by officials. Vince was shown on the floor saying “yeah I think I’m good.” Vince had a smile on his face as he looked happy that he motivated Styles the way he wanted to.
Analysis: That was an interesting way to end the show. I didn’t see that kind of confrontation coming since AJ and Vince have never really had that sort of interaction before. I’m not sure where it’s headed, but it’s probably a story where AJ has to find a new aggressiveness to get back to the top. I can see AJ being moved to Raw after WrestleMania and his rumored WrestleMania match is against Randy Orton, so that’s a storyline that could be started soon, possibly as we get close to the Royal Rumble.
Three Stars of the Show
2. Shinsuke Nakamura
3. Mustafa Ali
6.5 out of 10
Last week: 7
2018 Average: 6.62
Last 5 Weeks: 7, 7, 8, 7, 4.5
2018 High: 8.5 (July 31)
2018 Low: 4.5 (January 2, January 9, November 20)
I give this week’s Smackdown a 6.5 out of 10.
It was an enjoyable show with a great main event that resulted in a title change, so it felt like a big deal when it happened. Good effort by Rusev and Nakamura in the match.
The piped in crowd noise was annoying. I know that this is something that existed for years on Smackdown when it was taped, but they overdid it this week.
The women’s division was missing from the broadcast, so that was a bit disappointing. I know you can’t feature everybody. It just feels like they should have had a chance to do something on the show.
The next WWE pay-per-view is Royal Rumble on Sunday, January 27 in Phoenix. Here’s what we know so far.
Men’s Royal Rumble Match (R-Truth is #30)
Women’s Royal Rumble Match (Carmella is #30)
Universal Championship: Brock Lesnar (c) vs. Braun Strowman
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