SmackDown is live! So of course, I’m watching it the day after, because 1am is not my favourite time of the day, and I have Christmas prep to do. Sorry!
Eden Stiles is looking perfect, as per usual, in a lovely little Santa hat, and our opening match is New Day vs Lucha Dragons for the tag team titles. There’s a wonderful sign saying ‘I do not care for Cena’, which is the most polite attack on Big Match John I’ve ever seen. New Day are going to give us the present of wrapping up the Lucha Dragons, and are talking about their Christmas album. Unlike Team BAD, New Day can sing, and the harmonies, while atonal, are pretty cool, as they treat us to ‘We Wish You a Merry Christmas’. Kalisto and Sin Cara are wearing the pearlescent white and red again, which really wouldn’t be my choice, but then, I don’t work in wardrobe. I guess it’s pretty festive.
So, tag team titles on the line for this match, Sin Cara starting off against Kofi, who starts strong, but gets stuck in the Dragons’ corner for some lovely double team moves from the Lucha duo. Kofi comes back with a couple of dropkicks and when we come back from commercials, Big e is delivering a hell of a splash to Sin Cara. New Day start to dominate – they have the numbers game on their side for the advantage, and as much as the Lucha Dragons are in tune with each other, New Day seem more able to improvise on the fly. And they have a trombone, guys, I mean, how can they lose the tag team titles when they’ve got a trombone?
The numbers game catches up with the Lucha Dragons, with Xavier Woods distracting the ref just as Big E was nearly taken down, and then it’s full on distraction from the unicorns until Big E gets the pin, and the New Day are still our tag team champions. Well, someone has to shift merch, guys, and the people who are best at it are absolutely the New Day. Looks like those titles don’t need to travel for Christmas.
Santino Marella is apparently having a Christmas party for the roster, although we’re not sure anyone likes him enough to come. We see Stardust’s hand come out and steal the star off the top of the tree. Possibly our Cosmic Prince is having a little difficulty with the holiday season. Or he just really wants all the stars in the world to belong to him.
In another backstage segment, Renee Young is dressed as a gorgeous ice queen and interviewing our precious puppy of an IC champ, Dean Ambrose. This is probably the point where I admit to having indulged in some Christmas mead today, so make of that what you will. Dean says he’s got six staples in his head and his jaw is still clicking from where Dolph kicked him. He’s pretty sure he’s not losing his title tonight, and makes a lot of lovely violent mentions in how he’s going to do so, though he doesn’t know the difference between a metaphor and a simile. Renee is left looking cute, baffled, and like she’s very aware her boyfriend is a massive dork. Got to love the holiday season.
The Wyatt family amble out at the speed of your nan trying to get the turkey out of the oven, and then the Dudley’s pyro goes off as it it’s announcing something exciting, and then Ryback shows up? And Demon Kane? So, how does this work? Ryback is like, the goodest of the good guys on the roster, and he’s teaming with Demon Kane? I know that Demon Kane fought Seth when Seth was our beloved coward heel champ, but does that actually make him good? He’s literally from Hell, how can he be on the side of good? Then again, Roman Reigns punches pensioners for shiny gold objects, like a violent magpie, so I guess… it’s WWE. It doesn’t have to make sense.
Ryback vs. Rowan to start us, which is quite nice, actually, to see Rowan managing to get a real fight out of someone before these matches just devolve into a brawl and we forget what’s going on. The crowd are only really chanting for Ryback, probably because everyone else on the good team is ancient and not funny, and doesn’t have a puppy on the back of their wrestling gear. Strowman gets tagged in and demands to face Demon Kane – turns out Strowman was a huge fan of Seth’s and blames Kane for what happened to his knee. Or something.
Bray Wyatt throws Harper into Kane, and you sort of want to get them to calm down, I mean, Kane’s an old man, and it’s nearly Christmas. Ryback is tagged back in to give the Demon time to catch his breath, and because the crowd demand it, and there’s a lovely dropkick off the second rope from the Big Guy, which is pretty awesome. Unfortunately, the Wyatts get the drop on Ryback, and the match starts going to way of the family again.
Kane actually flings Strowman over the top rope, and at this point, it all comes apart, Rowan slinging Ryback over the barricades and into the crowd, leaving the Dudleys to take apart Bray. Unfortunately, the family have a member in reserve, and so they interrupt a double team move for Bray to his sister Abigail and take the win. Actually not a bad spot. Wow.
Backstage segment, Adam Rose and Damien Sandow are busy being best buddies and trying to hang ruined Christmas decorations, while Tyler Breeze and Summer Rae outshine everything in the room simply by being there. Santino is horrified by the mess of his perfect party, as Stardust brings his spiky Ascension children out for their Bah Humbug walk, to tell him that it is he, the Stardust who stole Christmas. Neville rocks up in an… elf ear hat… to say you don’t mess with another man’s decorations. Also, he’s in his ring gear, which makes me wonder if he’s got a match tonight, or if he just really hates wearing pants. Maybe the pants don’t exist yet that can contain his thighs.
Titus O’Neil shows up to say that the Cosmic Wasteland need to bring back Christmas, which makes the Dark Prince angry, so he cancels it. They decide on a match to ascertain whether Christmas is or isn’t happening, Ascension babies vs. Neville and Titus, presumably, although they don’t actually state that, so for all I know, it could be Stardust vs. The Concept of Reality. Apparently Stardust stole the presents off Titus’ kids, too. What a lovely man.
Tag team of the year, the Usos vs. Rusev and Del Rio, because neither of these groups had anything else to do this week. Barrett and Sheamus walk out as wrestling husbands, proud parents of their Bulgarian and Mexican children. I note that Barrett and Sheamus also avoid pants – is this because the arenas are kept at a temperature to help Roman Reigns’ fragile little Floridian body happy, so everyone from Preston, Newcastle and Dublin is stood in the hallways going “by ‘eck, it’s warm”? That’s the only thing that makes sense to me. The Euroboys all get handsy with each other, because that’s Europe for you, men who aren’t afraid to kiss each other – obviously we’ve never seen that from Dean and Roman, right?
Jimmy starts off against Rusev, with a little speed over the sheer bulk of the Bulgarian. This seems to be the theme for the match, with the twins using their superior speed and the fact that they’ve been working together for so long. This counters the strength of Rusev and Del Rio, because they’re just not as in tune with each other, though they do have two additional men at ringside to interfere when needed. Rusev takes a hell of a kick from Jimmy, which is a gorgeous thing to watch, and then it’s Jey against Del Rio, all speed and aggression. Jey actually manages to make Del Rios’ painfully slow double stomp look dynamic, which deserves a Slammy in and of itself, and the Euroboys get the win. Once more, Europe can’t let things go, so they set up to beat the hell out of Usos outside of the match, and Roman shows up to the screams of the women – and the roar of the crowd, which we’re still getting used to – to take the whole League of Nations out in order to protect his cousins. Well, the holidays are all about family.
Santino comes out to introduce Neville and Titus, as they face off against cosmic bros Konnor and Viktor. He seems more excited about this match than anyone actually in it, as if he and Stardust are going to sit together like proud papas and compare their boys. Neville’s showing off, which as breakout star of the year, he’s completely valid to do. These four are all spectacular to watch, and the Ascension boys have been deserving of better than they’ve been getting, so it’s good to see them back out. Knowing of Stardust’s shoulder injury, it’s also nice to see him out and about, even just at ringside to cheer on his cosmic children. Christmas is saved with a lovely red arrow from Neville, and the cosmic court are left to be grinches all by themselves. Don’t worry, boys, Cosmic Queen Eden will make sure you get a nice festive holiday covered in spikes and glitter.
Backstage, Renee Young is putting up with Dolph Ziggler, who makes a crack about her wearing all white. Dolph, no matter how many of them you collect, you’re still not the virginity police. She doesn’t rise to it, though, because she’s a lady. Dolph says he’s been going about it all wrong, and that he’s stuck in the middle of Kevin Owens and Dean Ambrose. I’d watch that. He also says you don’t forget your first time – I think he’s talking about the IC championship, but he could be talking about Dean Ambrose, it’s not clear. He says he wants to win the whole thing, which I think means he gets to take KO and Ambrose home with him for Christmas. The mead might be projecting a bit at this point.
Charlotte out to face Brie Bella, and she’s wearing a fetching little black Santa outfit, with red underneath, because she’s a bad girl now. Sexism will have been abolished when they make Roman Reigns wear the same thing. Becky Lynch is on commentary, as Brie smirks at Charlotte doing her dad’s walk. This from a woman who does her husband’s kicks to better applause than her own moves. The match isn’t particularly inspired, because what’s important is the conversation with Becky as to whether Charlotte or winning is more important. Becky says winning, because if you say anything else, I think Vince takes you out behind the sheds and shoots you. We get treated to Sasha in a snowman onesie, Naomi dressed as a reindeer, and Tamina in a Christmas jumper, as they pour eggnog onto Becky. Charlotte doesn’t break her match, just puts Brie in the figure eight, and Becky is left wet and humiliated at the side of the ring.
Renee talks backstage to Kevin Owens, who insists that everything he hasn’t won is his. Owens says he’s not worried about Ziggler, and he’s just focussed on beating Ambrose and winning that title. He also says she looks ridiculous, because we have a wonderful tradition of people knocking down Renee before they go fight her angry boyfriend. Owens doesn’t have good survival instincts.
Finally, we get our main event match, Ziggler vs Owens vs Ambrose for the IC title. Dolph’s meaning business again, with his ponytail, because loose hair means he’s not taking a match seriously? Something like that, I don’t know. Three extremely dynamic guys, this match should be a joy to watch, and I’m really excited; Owens is all raw aggression and power, Ambrose is fast and violent and unpredictable, and Ziggler is glorious in motion and could sell Christmas to turkeys.
The three of them take the fight to outside of the ring a lot, because when you’ve got three guys like this, you have too. Plus, it means Owens get to throw Ziggler into the pile of gifts and trees at the top of the ramp, and smack Ambrose in the face with a present. Ziggler retaliates by throwing Owens into a heap of festive cheer, and then smacking Ambrose around with a present and a tree. Ambrose gets a near fall to Ziggler, but Owens is back in the ring and the three of them end up flat after a great superkick from Ziggler and a clothesline from Ambrose. A spectacular spot is KO breaking up a sleeper by doing a running senton onto Ambrose’s midsection, with Dolph still on top of him. That looks pretty good.
Owens slams Ambrose into the mat, and Dean appears to be asking the ref if he’ll ever pay piano again. Ziggler’s a secondary issue, Owens just throws him around before going back to Ambrose, but it seems like a bad idea. As Dean goes to hit dirty deeds, Ziggler hits them both with a zig zag, and there’s three prone bodies in the ring. Dolph crawls to the pin, but Ambrose has always got enough fire to kick his way out. The crowd chants ‘this is awesome’ – and they’re not wrong. Ziggler goes for a superkick to Ambrose, manages to hit one on Owens, and then gets taken out by dirty deeds for Dean to retain his title. What a match. Ambrose flings the IC title around as KO destroys the Christmas trees on stage, and we finish SmackDown on Dean looking determined to keep his title for as long as he can.
I’ll apologise now for no recap of Wednesday night’s Tribute to the Troops – Christmas is a time for family, and I will be spending the rest of the week with mine. I’ll be back when we celebrate the coming of the man this holiday is really about…. And his name is JOHN CENA!
Happy holidays, guys.