Date: December 25, 2018
Location: Save Mart Center, Fresno, California
Commentators: Tom Phillips, Corey Graves, Byron Saxton
Now this one could be interesting as we have a taped show airing on Christmas night. The big main event is Shinsuke Nakamura defending the United States Title against Rusev in a match that has been teased for a few weeks now. Other than that it’s going to be fallout from the McMahon’s announcement last week. Let’s get to it.
Here are R-Truth and Carmella as Santa and an elf. Truth says they’re here because the reindeer were getting tired. You know the reindeer: Dasher, Dancer, Tito, Jermaine. They start a seven second carol break but here’s Daniel Bryan to interrupt. He’s not having this when he wants to be at home with his family because this is NOT the real Santa Claus.
Bryan exposed the real AJ Styles and now he’ll reveal this man as a fraud. He talks about how everyone’s materialistic desires are causing environmental disaster, meaning there will be severe global warming that could melt the North Pole, meaning there will be NO MORE SANTA CLAUS. Bryan calls Truth’s career a joke, but Truth says he’ll take the title from him after winning the Royal Rumble.
That doesn’t work when Truth can’t even count to thirty. Truth insists that he can: “One, two, three, four, five, six, seven second dance break!” The beatdown is on in a hurry and Bryan puts him in a heel hook. Some stomps set up another heel hook and Truth is left laying. That’s how you make Bryan hated: have him beat up one of the purest faces on the show.
Mustafa Ali vs. Andrade Cien Almas
Almas dropkicks him into the corner at the bell and stomps away with more aggression than usual. A belly to back suplex has Ali in trouble but he snaps off a hurricanrana. That earns him a toss to the floor and we take a break. Back with Ali hitting the rolling X Factor for two but missing a superkick and getting elbowed in the face. Almas ties him up for the top rope double stomp but Ali punches away on the top. A shove knocks Almas off the top but he backflips onto his feet (cool). The running knees miss in the corner though and Ali hits his running DDT. The 054 finishes Almas at 8:35.
Rating: C. They packed a good little bit into this and Ali winning was the right (and obvious) ending. Ali is getting a big push and at some point he’s going to get a shot at Bryan in what should be a really good match. That being said though, what the heck are they doing with Almas? He’s got every tool you could need and the reputation to back them up but he can never win anything. I don’t get it, and I don’t think Almas does either.
Samoa Joe hopes Jeff Hardy had a good Christmas. Maybe Jeff could make up for some of the time that he spent ruining everything. Last week Jeff said he was a strong man but Joe saw something in his eyes. It was clear: Joe has become Jeff’s new addiction.
Usos/Good Brothers vs. The Bar/Sanity
New Day (with Big E. covered in oil) comes out to do commentary at their own table. Sheamus kicks Anderson in the ribs to start so Jey comes in to start on Cesaro’s arm. The fast tags continue with Dain coming in to drop Jimmy as we take a break. Back with Jimmy in a neck crank and Wolfe adding some stomps.
A standing moonsault gives Wolfe two and Sheamus comes back in for the chinlock. The comeback and hot tag don’t take long though as it’s off to Gallows for the house cleaning. Everything breaks down and a series of shots to the face is capped off with Gallows superkicking Cesaro into the Magic Killer for the pin at 7:35.
Rating: C-. Too many people and not enough time to make it work here but it was fine enough while it lasted. I’m glad to see the Good Brothers getting a bit of a push, just because they’re something fresh. This division is dying for new talent and it’s very nice to see someone getting a chance.
NXT callups video.
Some people congratulate Ali on his win. Shelton Benjamin welcomes him to the roster but Bryan jumps Ali from behind, saying he doesn’t deserve to be here.
It’s time for MizTV, with the Best in the World trophy in the ring with him. Miz wastes no time in bringing out Shane McMahon as his guest. Shane says the new mandate from the company is to listen to the fans (less than 24 hours after Baron Corbin main evented Raw) so Miz brings up Paige being removed from power. That’s dropped in a hurry so Miz says there are four McMahon’s (three and a HHH actually) in power so Shane should have more time to form the best tag team ever with Miz.
See, this is all about Miz’s father. Miz lists off his resume and says he’s never heard his father say he’s proud of him. Then it was the Best in the World, where his father said that Shane was something else. Miz’s dad usually likes the high fliers so Miz was confused. Shane is the kind of guy who will put his life on the line and that got Miz’s attention. Miz needs to team with Shane to make his father proud and Shane should do it since this is the land of opportunity. Shane agrees, but says Miz better not screw him. They hold up the trophy to wrap things up. I’m scared of where this is going.
Rusev is very happy because it’s Christmas, Rusev Day, and his birthday. That’s why tonight, we’re having a much more handsome United States Champion.
Jeff Hardy vs. Samoa Joe
Joe starts with the power but Jeff kicks him down, setting up Hardiac Arrest in the corner. One hard shot to the face drops Jeff again though and we take a break. Back with Joe knocking him down again and grabbing an abdominal stretch. The neck crank goes on for a bit and triggers the comeback with Jeff hitting the basement dropkick, followed by Whisper in the Wind for two. Joe gets sent outside for a running clothesline from the apron but Jeff starts driving knees into Joe’s head against the barricade and that’s a DQ at 8:20.
Rating: D+. This was an angle more than anything else and that’s fine. I’m curious where this is going and it seems to have lit a fire under Hardy that hasn’t been there in a long time. Joe is the perfect antagonist for something like this as his promos have been outstanding. I’m not sure who wins in the end or where it’s going, and that’s a nice issue to have.
Post match Jeff stays on him until the referee breaks it up. Joe chokes him out and gives him the crazy look.
Shinsuke Nakamura is going to retain the title.
Fighting With My Family trailer.
The Usos are in the back but Jey goes off on his own. Jimmy runs into Sonya Deville and Mandy Rose, who point at the mistletoe above them. Naomi shows up and throws a shoe to scare them off. Jimmy and Naomi kiss under the mistletoe.
US Title: Shinsuke Nakamura vs. Rusev
Rusev is challenging. Nakamura, in a full body suit again, takes Rusev into the corner to start but gets taken down by some running clotheslines. An early triangle choke sends Rusev bailing to the floor and we take a break. Back with Nakamura grabbing a cravate to keep Rusev in trouble. A suplex gets Rusev out of trouble but Nakamura kicks him right back down. The stomps on the back of the neck have Rusev in more trouble and Nakamura grabs a chinlock. Rusev gets up and heads to the apron but gets kicked outside as we take another break.
Back again with Nakamura getting two off a knee to the head. The front facelock goes on for a few moments until Rusev throws him off without too much trouble. Rusev gets two off a spinwheel kick and another kick to the face gets the same. They head outside with Nakamura sending him into the steps and hitting a middle rope knee to the face back inside.
Kinshasa is countered with the Machka Kick for two but Nakamura grabs another triangle. This one lasts a bit longer until Rusev eventually throws him off. Rusev misses a charge into the post and a knee to the head gives Nakamura two. A lariat turns Nakamura inside out and another Machka Kick gives Rusev the pin and the title at 22:45.
Rating: B. It’s about nine months late but I’m that Rusev finally won the title back. He’s been over all year and has seemed to be going in circles for months now. Nakamura continues his near downward spiral after all that time doing nothing, despite being US Champion for five months. Good match here, but these two are going in opposite directions.
AJ Styles runs into Vince McMahon in the back, where Vince asks who AJ is. AJ lists off his monikers but Vince wants to know why AJ wasn’t wrestling in the house that he built. Vince wants the real AJ Styles and knows that AJ has a tormented soul. If AJ can harness his aggression, the animal inside him can get out. That’s what Vince wants to see so he slaps AJ, who beats Vince down. Agents break it up and Vince seems very happy.
Overall Rating: C+. Another good show here, even if the audience is going to be minimal again. It won’t be as bad as Raw from last night but this is still not a show that a lot of people are going to see. The wrestling was good though and I like where some of the stories are going. Again, it’s almost remarkable how much more together Smackdown seems than Raw, which has been the case for months now.
Mustafa Ali b. Andrade Cien Almas – 054
Usos/Good Brothers b. The Bar/Sanity – Magic Killer to Cesaro
Samoa Joe b. Jeff Hardy via DQ when Hardy attacked on the floor
Rusev b. Shinsuke Nakamura – Machka Kick
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