Previously on the Best and Worst of Smackdown: There’s a new version of Smackdown coming to USA Network on Jan. 7, so the show’s stuck in a rut where they’re just trying to keep their head down and make it to 2016. That means that now more than ever, the show is just an Elseworlds version of Raw where things happen, but not really, and stories progress, but they don’t. This one’s a little better, because Christmas, but we’re still not sure if any of this counts. This edition is both “super” and “live,” so that helps.
And now, the Best and Worst of WWE SuperSmackDown LIVE for Dec. 22, 2015.
Best: The Best Way To Spread Christmas Cheer Is The New Day Loud, For All To Hear
♫ “We wish you a booty Christmas, and a happy New Day.” ♫
I’m not sure why “The New Day singing Christmas carols” never crossed my mind, but I’m glad it happened in real life. I’m only sad that they listed off the song titles instead of singing snippets of them, but I guess that’s what happens when you sing Alicia Keys at SummerSlam and everybody gets in trouble.
I don’t care, though, I want more. I want a full-length parody of Dan Fogelberg’s ‘Same Old Lang Syne’ where Xavier Woods runs into an old girlfriend at the grocery store, and we find out they grew apart when New Day were terrible pandery babyfaces, but now she’s “seen them on the internet” and assumes they’re doing well. And she tells him she ended up married to Seth Rollins. I just want the end of the song played on trombone.
Best: The New Day Retain, Or
Best: Sin Cara Eats Sh*t
So yeah, the last several weeks of the tag-team division have played out like this:
1. The Usos and the Lucha Dragons want tag title shots
2. The New Day doesn’t want to give them title shots
3. Lucha Dragons beat New Day in non-title matches
4. Usos beat New Day in non-title matches
5. New Day ends up having to defend the titles against one or both teams
6. New Day retains
They’ve technically done it twice now, once in the build to TLC (culminating in that great ladder match), and once for Smackdown. The New Day keep losing to build to them retaining. On one hand, it’s great. The New Day should be tag champs until Jason Jordan and Chad Gable show up as permanent NXT champs and unseat them in a hypothetical quest to be tag team Ultimo Dragons. On the other, having the champions lose a bunch and then win “when it counts” sorta suggests that all the other matches you run don’t count. That’s not a great sales pitch for your product, guys.
The highlight of the match is, of course, poor Sin Cara. He gets through almost the entire match without screwing up, and then pulls an Undertaker WrestleMania 25 literal suicide dive without the height or gravitas. He just jumps through the ropes and goes straight into the ground, face-first. Here it is if you missed it:
New plan: We’ve proven that Alberto Del Rio will sell his soul for enough money, right? Let’s give him an extra $5 million and make him moonlight as Sin Cara. I’ll chip in a few hundred just to see how morose he gets about it.
Worst: Are You Kidding Me With These Wyatt Family/Dudley Boyz Matches
If you’ve watched any non-NXT WWE TV show or pay-per-view in the past month, you’ve seen the Wyatt Family face the Dudley Boyz. Sometimes it’s 1-on-1, sometimes it’s 2-on-2, sometimes it’s 4-on-4, with the entire Wyatt Family facing the Dudleys and two jerks pulled from their infinite pool of allies. Tommy Dreamer, Rhyno, Kane, Ryback, whoever. Chilly Willy. Danny Doring. If you read the Best and Worst of Raw, you know that having to come up with funny sh*t to say about this constant dip into standing-ass water has got me wanting to throw myself through a window.
I don’t know if the Dudley signed a “wrestle the Wyatts until we win” contract or what, but Jesus Christ am I tired of this. Have you seen them wrestle? Here’s them doing it again. It’s exactly the same, except Tommy Dreamer’s on Bane Venom and Rhyno’s on stilts, wearing a plastic raw steak on his face. The Wyatts win again, proving that 100/0 booking can be just as bad as 50/50. Maybe that’s what they’re going for. “Don’t like our booking style? BATHE IN THE FIERY PITS OF THE ALTERNATIVE.”
BEST: Stardust Steals Christmas
Santino still hasn’t interacting with The New Day, which is inexcusable, but he is locked in a feud with The Cosmic Wasteland over a ruined Christmas party. I’ll allow it. Dude has such bad luck at parties. Remember when he had a barbecue and nobody showed up, and ended up getting drunk on hard ice tea with a bunch of drug addicts? I think his girlfriend got arrested that weekend.
Anyway, Stardust has STOLEN CHRISTMAS, and if Santino wants it back, he has to find two guys to beat The Ascension in a tag-team match. That’s such a wonderfully absurd stipulation for a wrestling match. I’ve seen Ernest P. Worrell save Christmas in more believable situations. I’ve seen talking dogs do it. Christmas is always in f*cking danger for some reason. But yeah, Santino summons Neville and Titus O’Neil in elf hats to help him, and the match is on. Infinite +1s to Stardust for making sure Titus knows he stole Titus’ kids’ presents first. Stardust is the best.
Best: “Christmas Is Saved!”
And yeah, “you have to beat the Ascension” is probably the easiest way ever to save Christmas. One of those talking dog movies I mentioned ends with the heroes saving Christmas by rescuing a talking, invisible dog from villains by shooting them with guns that make them laugh uncontrollably. That seemed harder than beating up Konnor and Viktor. The call of “CHRISTMAS IS SAVED!” during the pinfall makes it all worth it, and I wanted them to cut to the announce team doing jumping high-fives in a freeze frame to emphasize it.
Quick note: I’m sad that Titus O’Neil didn’t become a wrestler in a different era, because he’s SO GOOD at trying to get the crowd involved. He’s constantly putting over Neville with his gestures and body language, and he’s treating it like it’s a WrestleMania moment while the crowd sits on its hands. Secondary quick note: I like that Neville takes forever to do the Red Arrow. He just stands on the top rope and stares for like 10 seconds. Think of it like one of those fighting game moves you have to charge up for a long time before it works, but when you hit someone with it it instantly kills them. It’s like Ganondorf’s axe kick from Super Smash Bros.
In Case You Were Wondering, Darren Young Is Still Alive
If you want to get weirdly crushed about tag teams, here’s Darren Young giving Titus a friendship bracelet and sob-hugging him over the Prime Time Players “doing their own thing.” So I guess they’re broken up? Thanks a lot, Christmas. :(
Worst: King Barrett, Ultimate Coward
Rusev and Alberto Del Rio defeat the Usos, and the League of Nations does another one of those post-match attacks to look important before Big Match John returns on Monday and they turn back into field mice. Unfortunately for them, EXTRA CENA is in attendance.
Roman Reigns shows up to save the Usos from getting Brogue Kicked, and the best part is King Barrett just kinda freaking out and cowering at ringside before disappearing. I know he’s hurt, but watching him passively participate in these constant beatdowns only to shuffle away when the sh*t goes down is hilarious. I want that to be his new character. I want him to be the least confrontational person in wrestling. He’s just hanging out with his mean friends, he’s not out here trying to get punched! He should start coming to the ring in full riot gear. They should put bowling bumpers on the ramp to make sure he doesn’t fall off and hurt himself.
Best: Charlotte Goes Mega Heel By Being A Smart Wrestler
This was one of those situations where I’m mad about the outcome, love the execution, and am frustrated to be on the wrong side of it.
Forever, I’ve been wanting a wrestler in a WWE ring to simply ignore outside distractions and finishing wrestling their match. Especially in the Divas division. Say you’re Natalya, and you’re wrestling Layla or whoever. If Alicia Fox’s music hits in the middle of the match and you’re already in the middle of a feud with her, just ignore her chaotic-neutral ass and lock in the Sharpshooter. You can deal with everything else afterward. I’ve been DYING for this to happen. I want one WWE character to be smart enough to prioritize and have an attention span.
Here, Charlotte is wrestling Brie Bella. Brie is locked in to wrestle at least seven matches a week, apparently. Becky Lynch is on commentary, and they spend the entire match badgering her about whether she wants to WIN MATCHES or HAVE FRIENDS. It’s either one or the other, dammit! Team B.A.D. shows up in wonderful Christmas-themed pajama suits and pour egg nog on Becky’s head. It’s 3-on-1 on the outside, so what does Charlotte do? She f*cking ignores it, locks in the Figure Eight and wins her match. LOVE IT. LOVE ITTTTT. They’ve been building up the idea that Charlotte and Becky are friends, but that Charlotte is sorta up her own ass about her success and legitimately likes Becky, but likes herself more. She likes having a subordinate, basically. Here, Charlotte is a TERRIBLE FRIEND, but, you know, a smart wrestler. We know Charlotte’s answer to the Friend vs. Wins question.
I would’ve totally been okay with Becky getting pissed and slapping the sh*t out of her, but it honestly builds a lot of sympathy for her to have her just sulk around about it. Charlotte thinks it’s funny, because of course she does … she’s a winner, and lions don’t concern themselves with the actions of sheep. Also, she’s a total asshole. Five stars.
Best: RIP Dean Ambrose’s Skull, 1985-2015
Dean Ambrose defended the Intercontinental Championship against Kevin Owens and Dolph Ziggler in a triple threat in the main event, and it’s a lot of fun. It’s exactly what you’d expect — a bunch of guys doing moves to each other until someone wins with a finisher out of nowhere — but that formula works a lot better for me in triple threats than in singles matches. In a singles match, it’s a 1-on-1 gladiator vs. gladiator situation or whatever where everything matters, and you’re playing a Larry Zbyszko Human Game Of Chess. In a triple threat match, it’s the opposite. You just need to hang in there until you can get an opening, then take it. If you’ve ever played a video game, you know you’ve got to either hit both guys with finishers and pin whoever took it first, or you toss one to the outside and pin the other.
The highlight of the match is Ambrose taking a sick suplex on his head, mid-’90s All Japan style. Here’s a clip, if it stays up. I’m not sure how the man was able to walk after that, much less finish the match. Merry Christmas, Dean, Owens told your girlfriend she looked stupid in her holiday coat and then gave you brain damage.