Merry Christmas and Happy SmackDown! As a gift to us all, The Bulgarian Brute challenges the King of Strong Style for the United States Championship!
- Mustafa Ali VS Andrade “Cien” Almas w/ Zelina Vega; Ali wins.
- 8 Man Tag: The Usos & The Club VS The Bar & SAnitY; The Usos & The Club win.
- Jeff Hardy VS Samoa Joe; Joe wins, by disqualification.
- WWE United States Championship: Shinsuke Nakamura VS Rusev w/ Lana; Rusev wins and becomes the new WWE United States Champion.
PLAY BY PLAY
It’s a Holly Jolly SmackDown!
It’s the best time of the year~! It may be cold but there’s also gold, and a FABULOUS cup of cheer! Yes, “Truthy Claus” and “Carm-Elf-a” bring out presents for all! Truth & Carmella go to the ring and Truth welcomes us to a very special Christmas SmackDown. Truth was up all night delivering presents to the good boys and girls of the WWE Universe, with the help of his lovely elf. And on their way back, they just had to stop by as a present to themselves. That, and the reindeer were tired. Everyone knows Dasher and Dancer, Jermaine and Tito, Lil’ Michael and Randy- Truthy Claus, let’s move on to a CAROL BREAK~! Carol’s here? No, songs! Oh…! Hit it! Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells, Jingle All the Way!
But wait, here comes Krampus! Er, Daniel Bryan! The WWE Champion says that as champion, he accepts that instead of spending time with family, he has to be in this “cesspool” of a city. But he will not accept legitimizing the “farce” of Truthy Claus. Fans may not realize this, but Truth isn’t the real Santa. “Fickle! Fickle!” Bryan shames Truth, Carmella and the fans. But he’s not here for them, he’s going to expose the real Santa Claus! Bryan understands why fans love Santa. He’s the personification of materialism. But all that gets anyone is the loss of half of the coral reef! And islands of roaming garbage! People just want more and more, so we only end up with more and more trash!
Does Truthy Claus know what else happens? The glaciers melt and the sea levels rise so that there won’t be a North Pole or Santa Claus! Truth thinks Bryan is one “angry little elf.” Bryan sees they’re just laughing it off. That should be expected, because Truth’s career is itself a “tired old joke.” Maybe, but Bryan better watch out, better not cry. Because Truthy Claus is going to the Royal Rumble. As the winner of Mixed Match Challenge, he’ll be Number 30. And maybe, just maybe, after Truth wins, he’ll take that title from Bryan and be the last one laughing. If Bryan is still champion by then. Bryan asks a legitimate question: how will Truth win when he can’t even count to 30? Oh he can count to 30. But he only needs to count to 7 for the DANCE BREAK!
But Bryan chop blocks Truth! And then Bryan drags Truth to a post and slams his leg into it! He kicks over a tree then slams Truth’s legs into the posts more! Carmella tells Bryan to stop but Bryan just throws gift boxes. Bryan stalks Truth to chop block him again! “You want jokes?!” Here’s a Heel Hook! Fans boo and jeer while Truth endures the twisting. Truth taps but it doesn’t matter, Bryan doesn’t let go until he’s satisfied. Carmella goes to comfort Truth but Bryan grabs Truth for stomps! Referees rush the ring but Bryan keeps going with another Heel Hook! Bryan finally lets go so that he can hold his title up high. Will Bryan ruin Christmas for everyone in the WWE Universe? Or is his comeuppance coming in the New Year?
Mustafa Ali VS Andrade “Cien” Almas w/ Zelina Vega!
The Beacon of Light pinned the New Daniel Bryan in last week’s tag team match alongside AJ Styles, but El Idolo wants to prove Ali can’t beat him. Will Almas & Vega give us all a Tranquilo Navidad? Or will Ali give them the gift of defeat?
The bell rings and Almas dropkicks Ali right away! Almas stomps a mudhole into Ali then backs off to sneer. Almas stands Ali up to CHOP him then scoop slam him. He sits Ali up for the shotgun dropkick while fans boo. Almas scoops Ali up for a back suplex, then brings him up again to a corner. He gives Ali another sharp CHOP, but Ali hits back with haymakers. Ali backs Almas down but Almas knees low. Almas whips Ali corner to corner but Ali goes up and over. Ali runs and headscissors Almas down! Ali elbows Almas away, then hops up, but Vega distracts. Almas shoves Ali over and out! Fans boo while Almas catches his breath. Vega talks trash while we go picture in picture.
Ali writhes on the outside but Almas comes out to fetch him. Vega talks trash the entire time Almas drags Ali up. Almas snake eyes Ali on the apron, then puts him back in the ring. Cover, TWO! Almas keeps his cool and brings Ali up again. He whips Ali to a corner, then blocks the boots. He turns Ali sideways for the draping backbreaker to clubbing forearm! Cover, ONE! Ali still has heart but Almas slams his arms down. Almas kicks Ali while he’s down, then puts on an armlock. Ali endures the stretch and the knee in his back. Ali gets up and fights back, but Almas knees low. Almas wrenches the arm to a back suplex, but Ali makes it a crossbody! TWO, and Almas clobbers Ali with a clothesline! Cover, TWO! Almas grins and tranquilos as he’s rather amused now.
Almas puts Ali in a corner for another CHOP! He runs in but turns Ali sideways again. Ali fights back and boots him away. Ali throws hands but Almas hits back. The two brawl back and forth, and they even trade chops! Almas swings but Ali dodges to flapjack dropkick him! Ali fires up while Almas gets to a corner. Ali whips Almas but Almas reverses, only for Ali to slip out and send Almas into buckles. He roundhouses Almas back, and we return to single picture as he hits the somersault facebuster! Cover, TWO! The Heart of 205 Live keeps his focus, but Almas gets a waistlock. Ali bucks, kicks and SUPERKICKS Almas off, but Almas ducks the next kick to hit the back elbow! Cover, TWO!! Almas and Vega are both frustrated with Ali’s resilience.
Almas drags Ali over to a corner and wants to go around, but Ali dropkicks him in return! Ali climbs, but Almas trips him up! Ali’s in the Tree of Woe, and gets the double stomps! Cover, TWO!! Ali lives and Almas is shocked! Almas fires himself back up and drags Ali to his feet. He suplexes Ali up top, then gives him another CHOP. Almas climbs and Ali fights him off. Almas wishes a “Merry Christmas!” but Ali fights back. Ali adjusts, for a sunset flip powerbomb! But Almas lands on his feet! Almas runs in but misses Cien Knees! Ali runs in for a tilt-o-whirl DDT! Almas is in the drop zone and Ali hurries up top! 0-5-4!! Cover, Ali wins!!
Winner: Mustafa Ali, by pinfall
The Beacon of Light continues to shine on SmackDown! A victory over the current WWE Champion and now one on a former NXT Champion, Ali is racking up the resume on the main roster. Will Ali soon find himself under the spotlight of a title match?
Samoa Joe speaks.
“How’s it going, Jeff?” He’s sure the Hardy Family enjoyed the holidays. It must be nice to make up for forgotten memories, or the ones that Jeff destroyed. But Joe is glad to have Hardy in the ring tonight. Joe is concerned about Jeff. Jeff says he’s strong, but there was this look in his eye. It was the look of a man looking for a place to “park his desires.” Joe is the new addiction. But he’ll cure Jeff of his pain and anger, so that the obsession will fade away, “along with everything else around you.” It’s for Hardy’s own good.
8 Man Tag: The Usos & The Club VS The Bar & SAnitY!
Last week, Jimmy & Jey took on the Good Brothers to prove a point of why they’ve been on TV while Luke Gallows & Karl Anderson haven’t. But then another team that hasn’t had much time to shine decided to jump in. Eric Young, Alexander Wolfe & Killian Dain want their turn, but for now they’ll team with the SmackDown Tag Team Champions to turn away two other worthy contenders. Will Cesaro & Sheamus be able to coexist with such a chaotic crew? Or will the Uso Penitentiary be #TooSweet for Christmas?
SmackDown returns as The New Day appears?! Fresno, feel~ the power~ as Kofi Kingston, Xavier Woods and Big E make their way to the ring in Christmas attire and stacks of flapjacks. They sit at their commentary table, after taking the time to mess with Corey Graves, and then The Bar make their entrance. Teams sort out and we begin with The Celtic Gladiator and Machine Gun Abs Anderson.
Sheamus powers Anderson right to a corner, and has him on the top rope. Anderson fights him off and CHOPS him back. Anderson whips but Sheamus reverses, only for Anderson to kick him back. Sheamus kicks Anderson and tags in Cesaro, but Ceasro gets a spinebuster! Tag to Jey Uso, for a fast hip attack! Cover, ONE! Jey wrenches Cesaro and brings him over to tag in Jimmy. Jimmy climbs and ax handles Cesaro’s arm. Cesaro knees back and tags in Wolfe. Wolfe hammers Jimmy and Big Damo tags in. SAnitY mug Jimmy and Damo scoops Jimmy. Jimmy slips out to chop Damo, but Damo shoves him. They collide, and Young distracts. Jimmy turns around into the Divide! Fans boo and jeer while we go to break.
SmackDown returns and Damo wrenches Jimmy’s neck. Fans rally up and Jimmy fights up. The New Day know all of SAnitY is insane but also unsanitary. Damo runs Jimmy over and tags in Wolfe. Wolfe stomps and moonsaults! Cover, TWO! Wolfe drags Jimmy over to tag in Sheamus. Sheamus pulls Jimmy against the ropes for Beats of the Bodhrain! He goes fast to get 10, then drags Jimmy in with a chinlock. Fans continue to rally and Jimmy gets a jawbreaker! Sheamus staggers but hits Jey! He turns around into the dragon whip enziguri! Sheamus staggers to tag Cesaro, and Cesaro boots Anderson. Cesaro shoves Jimmy but Jimmy hits Damo! Samoan Drop! Both men are down but crawling, hot tags to Wolfe and Gallows!
Big LG rallies with lariats and a roundhouse! He uppercuts Sheamus, then runs at Wolfe for a splash! Gallows pumphandle slams Wolfe and covers, but Damo breaks it. Anderson this Damo with a flying neckbreaker! Cesaro rocks Anderson with a European Uppercut! Gallows throws Cesaro out but runs into Wolfe’s boot. Sheamus tags in and knees Gallows! Fireman’s carry and tag to Cesaro, A-Swiss-ted White Noise! Cover, but the Usos break it! SUPERKICK for Damo! SUPERKICK for Wolfe! And double SUPERKICKS for Young! BROGUE for Jimmy but SUPERKICK for Sheamus! Jey runs at Cesaro but gets a flapjack EuroUpper! Gallows YAKUZA kicks Cesaro, tag to Anderson! Magic Killer! Cover, The Club & Usos win!
Winners: The Usos & The Club, Karl Anderson pinning
The Club pin one half of the SmackDown Tag Team Championships! After all this time off, have Gallows & Anderson just won themselves a title shot for the New Year?
The Cruiserweight Division congratulates Mustafa Ali.
THE Brian Kendrick, Akira Tozawa and of course, Cedric Alexander all give Ali big props on winning over Daniel Bryan. But someone not of 205 Live greets him. If Shelton Benjamin is giving Ali congrats, that’s big. But then Daniel Bryan attacks Ali from behind!! The WWE Champion refuses to be shown up, but the Cruiserweights and Benjamin back him off. Only for Bryan to come back for more! Bryan says Ali doesn’t deserve to be on the main roster, has this attack just sidelined Ali from it?
It’s a special Christmas Edition of Miz TV!
The Most Must-See WWE Talk Show and its Hollywood A-Lister host, The Miz, are in Fresno for this “Mizmas” episode, with the World Cup trophy in the ring. And what better way to close out 2018 than with the Best in the World, and Miz’s co-bestie, Shane McMahon! Shane O’Mac heads to the ring and Fresno is excited to see him. He thanks them for the ovation and wishes them a Merry Christmas. Miz asks if Shane saw his match last week. Yes, it’s very impressive. But that’s not what this is about, is it? Nope! Tell us about the McMahon Family’s plan for a fresh start! Well they’re finally listening to the fans. Fans want new stars, they’re on the way. New match-ups, that’s already happening. New opportunities, that’s always been SmackDown’s way. But now fans will help shape the narrative.
Miz for one thought Shane was perfect as Commissioner. SmackDown didn’t suffer like Raw did with Baron Corbin because they had Paige. Oh, here’s a question. No, Miz shouldn’t. Nevermind. No, speak your mind, Miz. Well alright, new WWE, Miz will do it. There are four members of the McMahon Family so Shane doesn’t have to do everything. How about finally joining The Miz in becoming the #BestTagTeamintheWorld?! Shane reminds Miz they’ve talked about this before. And he was pretty sure this interview was about the new direction of the company. It is, but also, “one for them, one for me.” Miz won his Mixed Tag Match against the FABULOUS Truth, with a new partner. So what does Shane say? Shane says Miz was successful. And? And what?
Okay fine. Miz has been begging to be Shane’s tag partner, and fans think it’s because Miz is sucking up. That’s not it. Miz wants to team with Shane because of his dad. Miz is a Grand Slam Champion, with multiple times in just about everything, and is a Mr. Money in the Bank. Yet Mr. Mizanin has never said he was proud of Miz. Miz won at WRESTLEMANIA! All Mr. Mizanin said was “You should thank The Rock for helping you.” Whether it’s in the ring or out, Miz wonders, “Will this be enough for him?” And it’s always “No.” Until Best in the World. Miz’s dad goes, “Wow! Shane is something else!” Usually his dad loves the aerial superstars, but what was it about Shane? Shane is a man without fear, and fights for what he believes in!
And maybe that’s how Miz could finally get through to his dad. Miz believes it, too, that he and Shane could be a great team. Just give Miz a chance. Why is he even asking? Shane has much more important things to do. He’s so sorry to drag Shane into this. But Shane did say about putting opportunities in the hands of the fans, right? So maybe, this isn’t up to Miz and Shane. This is up to the fans. Fans like the sound of that! What does WWE Fresno think? Do they want the #BestTagTeamintheWorld?! “YES! YES!” Miz offers Shane a handshake. Shane hears the fans cheering, and says that Miz’s speech really resonates with him. “You better not screw me, or there’s gonna be major consequences. Let’s try this.”
It’s official! Shane and Miz, Best in the World, as a team! Even Miz has to do the “YES! YES!” fingers. Will this team take the world by storm? Perhaps even the titles?!
Rusev and Lana speak.
“Today is a big day.” Not just because it’s Christmas, but because it’s Rusev’s Birthday! Happy Birthday to Rusev! And as his gift to us, he’ll become the handsome new United States Champion. And it won’t just be Christmas or Rusev’s birthday, but the best Rusev Daaaaay~ ever! Will Rusev’s gift be golden and bright when he faces Nakamura tonight?
Jeff Hardy VS Samoa Joe!
The Charismatic Enigma has put his past behind him, but The Destroyer wants to dig it all up to throw in his face. Will Joe regret trying to give Hardy a blue Christmas?
The bell rings and fans rally as Hardy circles with Joe. They tie up and Joe puts Hardy in a corner. Joe tries a sucker punch but Hardy ducks it to fire off haymakers! Hardy keeps on Joe with shoulders, but backs off at 4. He calls to “DELETE! DELETE!” but Joe scrapes Hardy’s face on ropes! Joe jabs Hardy but dares him to get up each time. Joe elbows Hardy down, then drags him up for more. Hardy hits back with kicks, and the spin back kick! Joe staggers to a corner, Hardy gives him a Hardyac Arrest! Cover, Ropebreak! Hardy stomps Joe at the ropes, then stops at 4. He runs back in to club away but the ref backs him off. Hardy runs but into Joe’s elbow! Joe takes control back while we go picture in picture.
Joe looms over Hardy before covering, TWO! He sits Hardy up for elbow after elbow to the neck, then drags Hardy up and around. Joe puts him in a corner for CHOPS! He also jabs away on Hardy, then drags him up. Hardy hits back with elbows and haymakers. Hardy gets Joe off his feet and stomps him at the ropes. He clubs Joe to a corner then throws more hands. Hardy climbs up to give corner punches. Hardy gets all 10 then says DELETE as he drops a leg on Joe’s neck! Cover, TWO! Hardy keeps on Joe with a jawbreaker. Joe staggers to ropes and Hardy runs n to dropkick him in the back. Hardy bumps Joe on buckles as we return to single picture.
Hardy stomps a mudhole into Joe, but stops at 4. He whips but Joe reverses, to back elbow and Pele! Cover, TWO! Hardy still has life but Joe keeps his cool. Joe drags Hardy up and around to bump him off buckles. He throws in knees, then puts on an abdominal stretch. Hardy endures being pulled sideways, and endures Joe’s elbow digging into the ribs and hip. Fans rally up and Hardy pries his way out but Joe rolls him up. TWO, and Joe clobbers Hardy down. Joe drags Hardy up again to snapmare him into a neck wrench. Hardy endures while Joe twists. Fans rally and Hardy gets a second wind. Hardy fights back and whips, but Joe reverses. Hardy comes back with forearms! Atomic drop, leg-splitting leg drop! Dropkick added, cover, TWO!
Hardy catches his breath while refocusing himself. “DELETE!” echoes out but Joe denies the Twist. Joe shoves Hardy but gets an elbow. Then Whisper int he Wind! Cover, Ropebreak! Joe is a ring general as always and he denies Hardy victory. Both men stand but Hardy ducks a chop. Twist of Fate hits! Joe is in the drop zone so off comes Hardy’s shirt. Hardy climbs up top, takes aim, but Joe rolls away. Hardy hops down to slingshot and dropkick Joe! Joe staggers while Hardy goes to the apron. The apron dive takes Joe out! Hardy gets up and stomps Joe against the barriers. Hardy doesn’t stop with the knees and feet, and the referee has to pull him off!
Winner: Samoa Joe, by disqualification
Hardy’s rage boiled over, but he doesn’t care about a loss. He throws Joe over the announce desk! Hardy climbs up but Joe yanks him off! COQUINA CLUTCH!! Joe’s trap works and he chokes Hardy out behind the desk. Fans boo and jeer but Joe holds on until he’s sure Hardy’s out cold. The Destroyer seethes with a wild eyed glare as he looms over Hardy. Will Joe become a demon himself as he tries to use Hardy’s inner demons to ruin him?
Shinsuke Nakamura speaks.
“The Total Diva has asked for gold for Christmas.” But Rusev’s been too naughty this year. All he’s getting is a #Knee2Face! The King of Strong Style looks to be Rusev’s personal Grinch, but will Rusev MACHKA in the clinch?
The Usos talk backstage.
The Club got the pin but that means their teams got the win. SmackDown’s still #OnLock! Jimmy gonna go find Naomi and they’ll all meet up later. Merry Christmas, Uce! But wait, Mandy Rose & Sonya Deville find Jimmy under the mistletoe. Uh, no thanks. Jimmy doesn’t know what he’s missing. Oh Naomi has that! She runs right at Mandy, but Jimmy keeps her back. Naomi is ready to snatch a golden goddess bald! Jimmy says Naomi doesn’t need to worry, he’s better than that. But uh, how about they use the mistletoe? Big kisses and Merry Christmas.
WWE United States Championship: Shinsuke Nakamura VS Rusev w/ Lana!
The champion believes the United States of Nakamerica has no worthy contenders, but contenders have still lined up. Now it is the Super Athlete’s opportunity to regain the glory of his undefeated rookie season! Will Rusev & Lana be celebrating a very Merry Rusev Day Christmas? Or will Nakamura continue his reign long into 2019?
The introductions are made, the belt is raised, and fans are fired up as we begin! Nakamura and Rusev tie up and Rusev puts Nakamura against the ropes. Nakamura turns it around, and he uses his old ab rest to taunt Rusev. Rusev shoves and then haymakers Nakamura! Rusev runs but into a boot! Only to come back with a shoulder! Cover, ONE, and fans are dueling. Rusev whips Nakamura to a corner and hits corner clothesline after clothesline. He drags Nakamura out for a scoop, but Nakamura wraps on a triangle! Rusev breaks free and Nakamura is all smiles. Nakamura says “C’MON!” to Rusev while we go to break.
SmackDown returns to see Nakamura give Rusev some Bad Vibrations. He puts on a cravat and grinds Rusev down, but Rusev endures. Fans continue to duel while Nakamura snapmares. Nakamura jumps but Rusev avoids the knee drop! Rusev quickly suplexes Nakamura up and over! Rusev stalks Nakamura and brings him up for a deadlift half-hatch suplex! He keeps on Nakamura with a back suplex, and covers, TWO! Rusev doesn’t lose focus, he stays on Nakamura with stomps. Nakamura gets to a corner but Rusev rams his shoulder in. Fans duel again, and Rusev whips Nakamura corner to corner. Nakamura dodges to roundhouse Rusev in the back. He puts Rusev up top for the Top Shelf Knee! Cover, TWO! Nakamura tries again, TWO!
Nakamura keeps on Rusev with sharp kicks to the back. Rusev grits his teeth as he gets up. Nakamura rams in knees, and Rusev goes to ropes. Nakamura chokes Rusev on the ropes then kicks and kicks and kicks! The ref backs Nakamura off while fans boo and jeer. Nakamura goes back to Rusev but Rusev throws body shots back. Rusev throws haymakers and whips, but Nakamura knees him again. Rusev tumbles to the apron and Nakamura stomps him out there! Nakamura lets off at 4, and Lana coaches Rusev up. Nakamura drags Rusev up for a cobra clutch, but Rusev pries at the hold. Fans duel and Rusev headbutts Nakamura in a cravat! Rusev swings but Nakamura swings around to an armbar! Then a triangle! Rusev makes it a cover, TWO, and he’s free!
Rusev runs but is put on the apron. He hits Nakamura back, then lines it up. Rusev tries to suplex Nakamura to the outside, but Nakamura breaks free and dropkicks Rusev down! Nakamura leaves him out there while we go to one more break.
SmackDown returns again, and Nakamura rams knees into Rusev’s ribs and shoulders! Lana and the fans continue to rally but it’s hard for her to watch her husband take those knees. Nakamura drops one, covers, TWO! Rusev is gasping but he still lives. Nakamura toys with him, then grabs him in a facelock. Rusev gets up and they go around, but Nakamura rams in more knees. Nakamura grinds Rusev down to the mat, but Rusev gets a second wind. Rusev stands and powers Nakamura off with a toss! Both men are down but stirring. Rusev runs into more knees! Nakamura kicks and kicks, but Rusev blocks one. Rusev roars and clobbers Nakamura with lariat after lariat! He whips Nakamura for a splash at the ropes, then scoops Nakamura for standing knees. Rusev throws Nakamura with a Fall Away Slam!
Nakamura rolls to a corner but Rusev tackles him with a shoulder. Running heel kick! Cover, TWO! Rusev feels he’s getting closer, and keeps his focus. Fans give him strength as they cheer for “Rusev Day!” Rusev scoops but Nakamura slips out. Nakamura fires off strikes, but runs into a pop-up knee! And roundhouse! Cover, TWO!! That was the closest yet! Rusev grows frustrated, but Lana keeps him in this. Rusev looms over Nakamura, but Nakamura slips away from the Accolade. Nakamura gets out but Rusev pursues, and throws him into barriers! Rusev brings Nakamura around to throw him at the timekeeper’s area. He puts Nakamura back in but Nakamura spins to kick Rusev back! Nakamura throws Rusev into steel steps! Nakamura bounces Rusev off the announce desk and then puts him in the ring.
However, Nakamura refreshes the count so he can guillotine knee drop Rusev’s neck on the apron! Nakamura then climbs up top, for a flying knee! Rusev is reeling while Nakamura aims from the corner. Nakamura wants it, he runs in, but into a MACHKA KICK!! Cover, TWO!! That was the closet yet for Rusev! Rusev fires up again and fans fire up with him! Rusev wants to CRUSH, and he goes for the Accolade. Nakamura sunset flips and gets the triangle! Rusev stays standing but Nakamura throws hands. Rusev fades and Nakamura keeps it from being a cover. Fans cheer Rusev on and Rusev gets a third wind for a deadlift powerbomb! Rusev is free, and has another shot! He runs in, but Nakamura sends him into a post! Roll up, TWO!! Point blank knee! Cover, TWO!? Rusev lives!?
Fresno says “This is Awesome!” but it’s far from over! Nakamura aims again, and Rusev slowly stirs. Nakamura runs at Rusev, but dodges the Machka Kick! Rusev gets a kick, but then CLOBBERS Nakamura! The Bulgarian Brute stomps the mat, aims, MACHKA KICK!! Cover, Rusev wins!!
Winner: Rusev, by pinfall; NEW WWE United States Champion
It’s a GOLDEN Rusev Day Christmas!! Rusev has the United States Championship back, and everyone celebrates! Will this Christmas birthday wish
AJ Styles meets with Vince McMahon.
Vince wants to get to know the Phenomenal One. What’s his name? Who is he? Uh, AJ Styles… A two-time WWE Champion, and SmackDown is the House that AJ Styles Built. Yes, but then, why didn’t Styles compete tonight? Why was Bryan the one raising hell here? Vince doesn’t get this. This “New” Daniel Bryan is around, but where is the “real” AJ Styles? Superstars come and go, winning titles, earning money and then becoming complacent. Vince knows that’s not Styles. Because Styles is like Vince. Styles a darkness in his heart and a tormented soul. Vince wants to see that unleashed. If Styles can harness all of that, and uses it to go after anyone and everyone in that ring, Vince sees great things for Styles. “That animal is begging to get out.” And that animal is eating Styles alive.
Styles wants to use it and Vince wants to see it, yeah! Vince slaps Styles, so Styles punches Vince!! Styles’ rage has been unleashed, just like Vince wanted. Vince grins, because he’s just fine. But will Vince come to regret unleashing the Phenomenal Animal?
A pretty great Christmas SmackDown right here. Again, like Raw Before Christmas, this was recorded after last week’s SmackDown so SmackDown wasn’t really live this time. And if that wasn’t clear, just listen to how WWE upped the volume on the crowd and piped in extra noise to make it seem like the fans weren’t tired after five hours of WWE programming (since 205 Live is still filmed on Tuesdays, too). But a tired crowd didn’t take away from the quality of anything.
First, I like the tease from R-Truth that he’s gonna win the Royal Rumble and challenge Daniel Bryan. That seems very unlikely but it’d be crazy if it happened. Bryan of course ups his Heel heat with beating up Truth, defaming Christmas and Santa, and then going after Mustafa Ali backstage. Ali VS Almas was great, and Ali goes over to keep himself riding high, but I can already see people going “Oh no, Almas is buried!” Almas fans should take a hint from him and tranquilo. This “fresh start” only just started, so Almas has time to recover.
Especially now that there is a new and Face United States Champion! I am so glad that Rusev VS Nakamura was given time to breathe, and it’s great that Rusev won. I know the audio was played with but I’m sure the fans live in attendance were thrilled to see Rusev holding a title again. No rematch clause means Nakamura moves on, and Rusev VS Almas (with Lana and Vega perhaps interacting) will be great for SmackDown’s 2019. I’m just torn that while Rusev shouldn’t lose right away, Almas needs to get something for him to stay afloat. Maybe it will be controversial with Vega and Lana being a distraction or even interfering, and that costs Rusev the title. Either way a series between these two would be great, and maybe even throw Nakamura in because he’ll want revenge.
The only real downside to such a tired crowd was that Miz’s great promo was all but wasted. Miz wanting his dad’s approval as a pro-wrestler has been known for some time, especially after Miz And Mrs. debuted on USA. It was a really well delivered speech and that’s because of the bit of truth he put into it. And it’s totally something Shane McMahon would understand given the decades of kayfabe with Vince. Shane and Miz might join the SmackDown Tag Team Division as soon as next week’s New Year’s Day SmackDown. There’s a chance they’ll still face each other at Wrestlemania, but there’s half a chance they make it to Mania to fight for those titles. I’m up for it either way.
Hardy VS Joe was pretty good, too, and clearly not over, either. Maybe they’ll have a proper blow-off like a No Disqualification match or something similar so that neither has to hold back. Maybe a Last Man Standing, or if WWE was really daring, bring back the I Quit Match for this. If Joe wants to truly destroy Hardy, that would be the way to go. I really like that The Club got the win in their 8 Man Tag match. Gallows & Anderson should definitely get the tag title match with The Bar, but I’m not sure WWE will give them those titles yet. The Club being another team to have held both Raw and SmackDown titles would be great for them, and they deserve it, but it’s hard to tell if Vince is letting go of his bias against things that aren’t his original product.
Though given that surprise ending segment, he still likes Styles. Vince would only let a superstar he likes punch him in the face. This concept of unlocking Styles’ darkness, something past even being a Heel, is an interesting choice of direction. Perhaps the “Real” Styles will try to get ahead of other contenders and go after Bryan again. Styles VS Ali would be great to see on the way there, and perhaps maybe even the entire locker room just to see how the “Real” Styles would face them compared to the supposed fake one.
My Score: 8.3/10