Smack Down Live Review: December 25, 2018 Author: Captain Charisma
Live from the Save Mart Center in Fresno, California
Taped from the Save Mart Center in Fresno, California (12/18/18)
In-Ring Segment: R-Truth, Carmella, Daniel Bryan The Christmas Day Edition of SmackDown Live starts with R-Truth dressed as Santa Claus and Carmella dressed as an elf welcoming the WWE Universe to SmackDown Live. They then go into a seven-second “Christmas Carol” break when they are suddenly interrupted by the WWE Champion, the New Daniel Bryan. Bryan appears and states to debunk that R-Truth is not the real Santa Claus. He then goes into monologue about the imagery of Santa, claiming that the people are being manipulated by materialistic things in life. He then goes on by saying in twenty years, there will be no more North Pole. Even after being called an angry elf, Daniel states that Truth is nothing more than an old man who is lost. Truth then responds saying that because he is number thirty in the Royal Rumble match, that he will meet Bryan at WrestleMania. He then cuts into another seven second dance break where he is then attacked by Bryan and he applies a heel lock submission maneuver. After a continuous onslaught attack on Truth, he stands tall in the ring with the WWE championship held high. My Opinion: Seeing R-Truth and Carmella dress up in the holiday spirit was pretty entertaining though Bryan did have an amazing point when talking about Truth and his current role in WWE. Over ten years in the WWE and Truthy Claus is the best we get out of him in 2018? Let us be honest. There is no legitimate way that Truthy-Claus will win the Royal Rumble in my opinion but this segment might have lit a fire underneath the veteran that might surprise fans. Other than that, it was a great display by the WWE Champion to save all of us from the contamination of the ordinary festive opening!
Match #1: Andrade Cien Almas with Zelina Vega vs. Mustafa Ali As soon as the bell rings, Andrade Almas starts out of the gate hot with a dropkick to Mustafa Ali into the turnbuckle. Almas then dominates Ali into the corner. However, Ali finds an opening and gains momentum. After distracting the referee, Almas catches Ali off guard on the top rope and pushes him onto the outside for the commercial break. After the commercial break ends, Mustafa Ali is in control and hits Almas with a rolling facebuster. He gains offense until Cien meets him halfway and stops it. Andrade attempts to put the newest member of the SmackDown roster with a diving turnbuckle double stomp for the three count but is unsuccessful. Ali attempts a turnbuckle powerbomb but Cien reverses with a moonsault. After a heated exchange of offense and defense, Mustafa Ali successfully sets up Almas with the finishing 054 maneuver and wins the match. Result: Mustafa Ali via pinfall My Opinion: When the McMahon Family stated that you will see fresh new matchups that will not disappoint, this match proved that right! Seeing two of SmackDown’s hottest and newest stars clash to showcase their talents is a Christmas gift worth saving on DVR!
Samoa Joe Exclusive Samoa Joe appears sitting down backstage and wishes Jeff Hardy a great holiday season. Joe wishes Hardy luck and claims that tonight’s match will help identify Joe as his new addiction. He then ends the exclusive with stating that he will become victorious.
Match #2 – The Usos and Gallows/Anderson vs. The Bar and Sanity – 8-man Tag Team Match The New Day appear before the match dressed up in their festive attires and make their way to their very own commentary table. After the bell rings, Karl Anderson comes out of the gate hot with a spinebuster to Sheamus onto the turnbuckle. After consistent tags from both teams, Killian Dain of Sanity is tagged in and stops the momentum of legal man Jimmy Uso who was attempting to take out Eric Young from the ring apron as we head into our second commercial break of the evening. Coming back, Dain gains control of Jimmy Uso and starts a movement of consistent tags. Sheamus applies the headlock but it is broken by Jimmy. It sends Sheamus to tag in Cesaro but Jimmy tags in Luke Gallows. Gallows gains momentum after the hot tag onto Alexander Wolf but is stopped by Sheamus. The Bar hit a flying high cross but is broken up by The Usos. The Usos start themselves a superkick party and in comes Gallows and Anderson where they hit the Magic Killer on Cesaro for the win. Result: The Usos and Gallows/Anderson via pinfall My Opinion: That was a fun eight man tag match but what caught my eye the most was the pin by Gallows/Anderson! One of Japan’s greatest tag teams are finally getting the spotlight they deserve. Let us also not forget that teams such as Sanity are in the mix as well! I love the idea that these teams that have been put onto the sidelines are finally getting the light of day. Now what does this mean for the SmackDown Tag Team Division in particular? Well I believe that this will pave the way into more teams stepping up and being showcased in the new year.
Backstage Segment (Mustafa Ali, 205 Live roster, Shelton Benjamin, and Daniel Bryan) Mustafa Ali is greeted backstage by members of the 205 Live roster where he is then confronted by Shelton Benjamin. Benjamin welcomes Ali onto the SmackDown roster with a handshake. However, he is then attacked by WWE Champion Daniel Bryan. Bryan then yells at Ali that he does not deserve to be on the roster and the altercation is broken up by WWE officials.
In-Ring Segment: Miz-TV with Shane McMahon – The Miz, Shane McMahon The Miz greets the WWE Universe and welcomes Shane McMahon onto the show, claiming that they are co-besties. Miz then welcomes McMahon onto Miz TV and asks what holds for the future. Shane responds by saying that The McMahon Family will be listening to the WWE Universe instead of higher authorities. The Miz claims that because Shane is the fourth member of the McMahon Family, he has the capability of being the best tag team in the world. After listing his accolades, Miz explains the reasoning behind teaming with him is because of his father being proud of him. He claims that at the Crown Jewel pay-per-view, Miz’s father was proud of Shane. The Miz claims that there is opportunities he wants with Shane as a tag team partner are up to the fans, not themselves. After a loud roar of yes chants, Shane McMahon accepts Miz’s offer and distributes a yes chant to end the segment. My Opinion: I have mentioned before that I believed that this storyline would go nowhere but tonight I was proven otherwise. This gave me the vibe of when Daniel Bryan and Kane reunited Team Hell No, which I was in attendance for in June. Seeing The Miz go up and beyond asking for Shane as a tag team partner was entertainment galore! I could tell that this newly formed tag team will be a real must-see team indeed. Foremost will I think this will be one hundred percent full proof? Probably not. But let us just enjoy the journey, not the destination!
Rusev and Lana Exclusive Appearing backstage, Rusev exclaims with elation that today is not only Christmas Day but it is also his birthday. He explains to the audience that he will guarantee not only a happy holiday but a new United States champion when he defeats Shinsuke Nakamura later tonight.
Match #3 – Samoa Joe vs. Jeff Hardy The heated rivalry matchup kicks off with Jeff Hardy gaining control with getting Samoa Joe into the corner turnbuckle while firing off some strikes. After a fury offensive drive, Hardy applies a missile dropkick from the bottom corner which literally lands on Joe’s chin for an early cover but is not good. Joe comes back after Hardy is stamina recovering and hits him with a clothesline to send us into commercial break. After break, Joe gets Hardy into the corner where he then hits his vintage corner enzuguiri kick to gain the upper hand. The Southern California submission specialist gains control of Hardy with a head crank. Nonetheless, Jeff finds an opening for a comeback and hits Joe with a series of strikes and then hits Whisper in the Wind for a two-count from the referee. He then gets Joe into the Twist of Fate signature and attempts to hit the Swanton Bomb but Joe rolls to the outside. Jeff then attacks Joe with a repeated series of dirty knee strikes to the head to cause the disqualification finish. He then attempts to tear apart the commentary table but Joe locks the Coquina Clutch on the Charismatic Enigma and chokes him out to end it. Result: Samoa Joe via disqualification My Opinion: Despite the disqualification finish, it was what you would expect from the continuous Joe vs. Hardy matchup. A back-and-forth exchange with one getting an advantage over the other. I mean, I do get that this rivalry is the comeback story for Jeff Hardy but at least give us some new stuff and more storyline! I love the fact that two of my favorites are going at it but when there is no revolving matches backed up with a juicy storyline, it is the same thing as pickles and ice cream, it just does not mesh together!
Shinsuke Nakamura Exclusive Nakamura appears and claims that “the Total Diva” (Rusev) wants a shot at his prestigious United States Championship. He responds to Rusev’s earlier promo by saying that the result will end up the same as it has been all of his reign with a knee to face.
Match #4 (Main Event) – Shinsuke Nakamura vs. Rusev – United States Championship After a lockup between both competitors, Rusev gains the offense and takes the United States champion down for a moment. However, it is Shinsuke Nakamura who reverses Rusev’s carry position and attempts a triangle hold submission that sends the challenger rolling onto the outside that takes us into the commercial break. Afterwards, Shinsuke takes control of the Bulgarian Brute for a momentary second until Rusev finds the will to gain offense to get him in control of the match. Shinsuke then catches him into the corner and hits Rusev with his patinate rolling knee strike to take back his momentum. Catching the Bulgarian Brute while taking a breather, Nakamura applies the armbar which transitions into the triangle choke once again. Rusev then catches the United States champion on the apron and attempts a superplex onto the ringside floor but is unsuccessful and is taken to the outside by a flying kick from Nakamura to go into the next commercial break. After the second consecutive commercial, Shinsuke is seen taking Rusev down with powerful knee strikes to the ribs, gaining control once again. After a volley of offensive strikes, Rusev catches the champion and finds a comeback to bring the crowd onto their feet. Rusev catches Nakamura with a Machka kick and comes up with an unsuccessful two count. In Rusev’s attempt to apply The Accolade, Shinsuke rolls to the outside. However, Nakamura finds an opening and attempts to finish the match with a flying Kinsasha. He then sets up for the Kinsasha but is met with a Machka kick. Although the count was not in the favor of the Bulgarian Brute, he then attempts another Accolade. Again, another triangle choke is applied by Nakamura, Rusev breaks it up with a powerbomb! After a back-and-forth exchange, Nakamura hits a knee to Rusev and attempts one more Kinsasha but is met with a huge clothesline. Rusev sets up for the final machka kick and hits it for the three count victory! The San Diego crowd goes nuts and Rusev celebrates with his wife Lana to end the night. Result: Rusev via pinfall My Opinion This might have been the greatest Christmas present known to mankind! Seeing that it is the Bulgarian Brute’s birthday and Christmas Day, I did not expect this match to be as good as it was! Despite the match being pre-taped last week, I can tell you without a shadow of a doubt that this main event was nothing more than what the San Diego crowd chanted, awesome! As a huge Rusev fan, I appreciated the United States championship being back on the waist of The Bulgarian Brute, even considering that he was in a slump after his WWE Championship rivalry with AJ Styles earlier this year. If I may say so myself, I think I will be bold enough to say that 2018 was really Rusev Year, especially with the accomplishments the man has achieved this year. This really ended Christmas on a great note!\
Final Thoughts Again, SmackDown Live proved to be the brand that runs the television stands with its amazing matchups from Ali and Almas to Rusev and Nakamura! Now this Christmas edition did not bring all hope and joy in my eyes as the non-existence of women segments ceased non-existent. Although if you do count the altercation with Jimmy, Naomi, and the former members of Absolution, then I do not know if you the audience should really count that. Granite that flaw, there were some things missing but really made me impressed overall and put me into the holiday spirit, minus the R-Truthy Claus and the seven second dance breaks. Let me add that the lack of gimmicky match or matches kind of felt different this week. Seeing that this festive episode, I was hoping that there would be more entertaining. Before I finish my final thought, can we all point out that Big E applying body oil all over himself was not in any way, shape, or form is that entertainment in my eyes, more disgusting than anything else. Nonetheless, it was fun to watch and somewhat put me into the holiday spirit! Team Blue gets the grade of a C or B for Captain Charisma! Merry Christmas to everyone and I hope you had a wonderful holiday season. I wish all of you the best and have a happy new year!