Date: December 19, 2017
Location: Prudential Center, Newark, New Jersey
Commentators: Tom Phillips, Byron Saxton, Corey Graves
It’s the first show after Clash of Champions and the bosses have some splainin to do. This past Sunday, Shane McMahon refused to count the fall in the tag match but Daniel Bryan one upped him with a fast count. Other than that, it’s time to start the build to the Royal Rumble, which could mean several different things. Let’s get to it.
We open with a recap of Sunday’s tag match. No title matches, including the main event, are mentioned.
Here’s Bryan to get things going. After mentioning the women’s Royal Rumble, he plugs tonight’s main event. Cue Shane and it’s time for the awkward conversation. They talk about Sunday’s match and Shane says the emotions got the better of him. When he was about to count the three, he thought of Owens beating his father up and the two of them screwing Smackdown at Survivor Series.
Bryan cheated too though, and Shane wants to know why. Daniel says he did it to protect Shane from himself, which Shane says he doesn’t need. What Bryan did on Sunday was to protect their idea: making this place the land of opportunity for everyone, not just the people Shane likes. Shane warns Bryan that Sami and Kevin will turn on him when they’ve gotten what they can out of him. Bryan accuses Shane of doing what’s best for business, and if that’s the case, fire him now because he doesn’t want to see Shane turn into Mr. McMahon. Shane teases firing him but says he’ll let Daniel run the show tonight.
Usos vs. Shelton Benjamin/Chad Gable
Non-title. Gable takes Jimmy down to start but the Usos take him into the corner for some alternating splashes. Back with Jey enziguring Shelton down and the hot tag bringing Jimmy in. The Samoan drop plants Chad, followed by a wicked Umaga attack in the corner. A superkick looks to set up the Superfly Splash but Shelton makes the save. Rolling Chaos Theory sets up the powerbomb/top rope clothesline combination for the pin on Jimmy at 7:42.
Rating: C-. They needed to do something with Benjamin and Gable so hopefully this sets up their definitive title shot. I don’t think we’ll actually get new champions out of this but at least we’re setting something up here. The Usos need some new challengers and it’s pretty clear we’re going to be seeing the Bludgeon Brothers there sooner or later. Odds are Gable and Benjamin lose in short order, but at least the match should be good.
We look back at the women’s Royal Rumble announcement, including a bunch of reactions from wrestlers.
Here’s Charlotte for a chat. She talks about how excited she is and can’t wait for the match. She’ll be waiting to defend her title at Wrestlemania against the winner, but here’s Naomi to interrupt. She officially enters the Rumble and promises to see Charlotte at Wrestlemania. This brings out the Riott Squad with Naomi ripping on the three of them. Naomi goes a step further by challenging them to a match after the break.
Naomi/Charlotte vs. Ruby Riott/Sarah Logan
Joined in progress with Charlotte chopping Logan but missing a big boot. Logan chop blocks her down and hands it off to Ruby for a leg lock. Charlotte finally breaks out and knees Logan in the ribs, allowing the hot tag to Naomi. A long series or rapid fire forearms and a kick to the head rock Logan as everything breaks down. With Charlotte taking Riott down, the Rear View ends Logan at 3:36.
Rating: D. No time to go anywhere here but is there a reason the Riott Squad lost again? I mean other than to separate them from Absolution of course (One loses, the other doesn’t. That’s totally different!). Charlotte not being in the Rumble is going to make it a bit more difficult to get to 30 but at least there’s a real prize for the winner.
New Day, in Christmas gear, gives out presents, including flapjacks and shirts. Rusev and Aiden English, dressed as Santa and Frosty respectively, show up to plug the Happy Rusev Day shirt. Rusev only has a naughty list and English sings a challenge (“Oh Rusev Day, oh Rusev Day. We challenge you to a contest!”). Rusev stomps on the pancakes so Big E. says he just flapped the wrong jack.
Here’s Dolph Ziggler to say he knew he belonged around here with the US Title being proof. It’s not even his first reign and we see a clip of him winning the title at Capitol Punishment (That was SIX YEARS AGO???). We see his Intercontinental Title wins as well, followed by winning Money in the Bank and the successful cash-in. Ziggler says people need something to remember him by, so he lays the title down and walks away. If that’s how they get rid of Ziggler, fine, but what was the point of taking the title off Corbin?
Sami and Owens present Bryan with a bottle of champagne but he tells them to go get ready for their match before he fires them himself.
New Day vs. Rusev/Aiden English
We get a LOUD Rusev Day chant before things get going. I’m sure they’ll be punished later. English (Frosty) and Kofi (gingerbread man) start things off with Kofi being sent outside for a little dance. Rusev (Santa)gives chase, leaving English to take a dropkick. Big E. (elf) grabs the bag of presents and throws some shirts to the crowd. There are some homemade Happy Rusev Day underwear as well though, allowing English and Rusev to jump them from behind.
Back from a break with Kofi in trouble as the fans want pancakes. Rusev charges into Kofi’s boot and a tornado DDT takes him down. Woods (reindeer) comes in off the hot tag but the Honor Roll is countered into a fireman’s carry spinebuster for two. The pancakes are put on the table and English covers them with whipped cream. Woods won’t go into them so English does instead. English is ready to fight (“FOR RUSEV!!!”) but charges into a shot to the face. The top rope elbow ends English at 8:38.
Rating: C. I’m usually into these Christmas matches but sweet goodness Rusev and English need to run with this thing while they can. The fans are eating it up like pancakes with whipped cream and they’re losing every single week. Even if it’s just for a little while, let them see where they can go. It’s better than putting Woods in a white suit and calling them Speed Force.
Randy Orton/Shinsuke Nakamura/AJ Styles vs. Jinder Mahal/Kevin Owens/Sami Zayn
Rematch from Tribute to the Troops. Orton and Mahal get things going but everything breaks down before anything happens. Everyone winds up on the floor with Orton bouncing Mahal off the announcers’ table. Back in where Nakamura is driven into the wrong corner so Sami can start in on the arm. Nakamura lays on Sami’s chest on the ropes and pulls his chest hair out for a rare bit of offense. Orton drapes Sami over the top rope for two and it’s back to Mahal. The referee tells him thirty seconds and about thirty seconds later we go to a break with Owens stomping on Orton.
Back with Orton fighting out of a chinlock and bringing AJ in to….get sent outside in short order. Sami gets in some right hands for two of his own as the villains start taking turns on Styles. AJ DDT’s his way to freedom and brings in Nakamura for the real house cleaning. A series of kicks and knees to the head rock Sami and that means Good Vibrations. More strikes look to set up the exploder but Nakamura settles for a cross armbreaker instead.
Owens is right there with the backsplash for the save but gets sent outside. Everything breaks down again with AJ slingshotting onto Owens with the forearm. The Singh Brothers break up the Kinshasa but only get ejected instead of drawing a DQ. Not that it matters as Mahal eats an RKO, drawing them back to ringside. That means a double draping DDT, a Phenomenal Forearm for Owens and Kinshasa for the pin on Sami at 15:21.
Rating: C+. Standard house show main event here and that’s fine enough. I like the idea of Nakamura getting some feature time for a change as he could become a big time player in the main event scene soon enough if need be. That being said, was there ANY reason for Sami to take the pin here instead of Mahal? Come on already.
A long celebration seems to set something up but just ends the show instead.
Overall Rating: C-. Well it’s nice to see how much effort they put in this week. This show was their version of a Smackdown Christmas special, meaning one match felt different than any other week. It’s not bad and it didn’t drag along like Raw, but don’t expect any kind of major developments here. I know it’s the holidays and this is all they can really do given how few people will be watching, but that doesn’t make it any less dull.
Shelton Benjamin/Chad Gable b. Usos – Powerbomb/Top rope clothesline to Jimmy
Charlotte/Naomi b. Riott Squad – Rear View to Logan
New Day b. Aiden English/Rusev – Top rope elbow to English
Randy Orton/AJ Styles/Shinsuke Nakamura b. Sami Zayn/Kevin Owens/Jinder Mahal – Kinshasa to Zayn
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