Previously on the Best and Worst of Smackdown Live: A Clash of Champions happened with Dolph Ziggler becoming United States Champion, Shane McMahon and Daniel Bryan dividing the ring in half like they’re Marcia and Greg Brady trying to share an attic, and Mojo Rawley elbowing Zack Ryder into the First Aid Center at Disney World.
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And now, the Best and Worst of WWE Smackdown Live for December 19, 2017.
Foreword: It’s Christmas Next Week So Nothing Happens
Smackdown Live just had a pay-per-view over the weekend and Christmas is in six days with several weeks remaining to build to the Royal Rumble. That means this week’s Smackdown — and presumably both next week’s Smackdown and next week’s Raw — are going to be house show placeholder shows with some Christmas shit strewn around the arena. I mean, it’s fine. Nobody’s going to be paying attention to these shows right now. Smackdown had a pay-per-view, and even Smackdown’s creative team didn’t watch it.
So this week’s report might be shorter than normal, because, seriously, no joke, almost nothing of consequence happened. I say almost because …
BEST: O Rusev Day
In a moment so good it validates an entire year of Smackdown Live programming, The New Day (dressed as a gingerbread man, a reindeer and an elf, which all might be Final Fantasy XV classes, I’ll have to check) have their hallway flapjack distribution party interrupted by snowman Aiden English and goddamn Rusev Claus. RUSEV CLAUS.
- Rusev Claus identifying himself as Rusev, just in case New Day didn’t get it somehow
- Aiden English with perhaps his best vocal performance ever, singing ‘O Rusev Day’
- Rusev challenging New Day to a fight by aggressively grabbing a flapjack, taking a bite of it, stomping it FOUR TIMES and yelling A PHOOEY TO YOUR PANCAKE, A PHOOEY TO YOUR PANCAKE!
- this GIF of the incident, which belongs in a museum
Big E’s heated response of, “YOU JUST FLAPPED THE WRONG JACK, SUCKA” is made even better by his exasperated “DAMN” afterward. You can’t just say phooey to a man’s pancake, you know?
So the match happens with all of them still in costume, and it’s the most fun I’ve had watching WWE since … shit, Usos vs. Breezango, maybe? It’s OUTSTANDING, from Rusev being unable to catch gingerbread man Kofi despite “run run running as fast as he can” to the finish, which is built around Aiden English and Rusev trying to slam Xavier Woods’ face into a plate of pancakes with whipped cream and cherries on them like it’s a flaming barbed wire baseball bat and getting hoist by his own holiday petard.
I sincerely don’t care if the rest of the show was filler, because this was worth the two hours I spent watching Smackdown. And man, it’s the most heartwarming thing in the world that Rusev Day is the currently the most over act on either brand. Those chants are getting THUNDEROUS. I hope that continues throughout 2018, and that maybe they give him another “pop up and almost win” spot in the Royal Rumble.
Every day is truly Rusev Day.
The Rest Of The Show
Like I said, none of this is really bad, but none of it’s good, and none of it matters. Absolutely zero. So I’m just gonna touch on each thing so you don’t think I’m completely mailing in this column, and we’ll pick back up with the obsessive compulsive nit-picking of everything they do when the season’s over.
The show opens with Daniel Bryan and Shane McMahon discussing what happened at Clash of Champions, which … I don’t know, seemed like a big deal? You had the owner of the brand (or whatever) nearly coming to blows with his general manager over a personal vendetta against two of the show’s top stars, and all the commercials were like, how will Shane McMahon deal with his general manager??
The answer to that question, surprisingly, is, “they’re actually kinda chill about it.” Bryan mentions that he doesn’t like the idea of doing what’s “best for business” because he spent so long fighting those words, and says that while he likes Shane, Shane can be kind of a hot-head and he doesn’t want him to turn into a vindictive old crackpot maniac like Mr. McMahon. Shane’s response is to explain all his heel actions from his point of view, and then he’s like, “I trust you, Daniel, good luck running the show.” And that’s not a thinly-veiled threat or anything, he’s actually wishing him well. And then nothing happens!
The role of the women on the roster this week is to react to what happened on Raw, which coincidentally enough is how they’ve been booking the women on Smackdown for weeks. No seriously folks, we have fun here.
Anyway, Charlotte Flair puts over the match and Naomi shows up to be the first woman to announce that she’ll be in the match, which is pretty weird. Like, aren’t they all in the match? There aren’t that many women on the roster. Even if they do a 20-person Rumble instead of 30, you can get every woman currently considered “main roster talent” and leave out Lana and boom, that’s 20. I guess they wanted it to be An Historic First™? I dunno.
That leads to Naomi and Charlotte teaming up against Ruby Riott and Sarah Logan, with Naomi getting a relatively easy, clean win over Logan with the Rear View. I’m going to assume Sarah getting her butt kicked and then getting assed in the face like an afterthought is in response to the Internet eating her like game meat for the past two weeks.
This is your best-case scenario for the Riott Squad, though. Ruby and Logan as a loser tag team that doesn’t talk, with Liv Morgan as a Precious Moments figurine on the floor. Let’s hope that when the Rumble’s over and they don’t need so many women on the main roster, they’ll salvage poor Heidi Lovelace and ship the other two to Abu Dhabi like the Nermals they are.
Chad Gable and Shelton Benjamin have pinned the Tag Team Champions!
The closet thing that constitutes “something happening” on the entire show is Dolph Ziggler’s championship celebration, in which he shows footage of all his previous title wins, then leaves the United States Championship in the ring like the world’s most insincere Shane Douglas and bails. And I guess it’s supposed to be a Naito-esque disrespecting of the title belt, but it kinda reads like even Dolph Ziggler doesn’t give a shit about Dolph Ziggler’s United States title run.
This feels like one of those “Natalya sounds like she’s about to retire but instead turns heel, even though she’s already heel” angles where they attempted one thing and got another. If Dolph never shows up again and the United States Championship gets vacated, hey, Christmas miracle!
The main event is a six-man tag team match, because WWE is all about the six-man tags lately. Raw had two of them in a row in hour three, Smackdown has this one, and last week’s Tribute to the Troops had THREE. In fact, Tribute to the Troops had this one. This exact one — Kevin Owens, Sami Zayn and Jinder Mahal vs. AJ Styles, Randy Orton and Shinsuke Nakamura — with the exact same finishing sequence.
Not a similar one, move for move the same finish. Orton hits an RKO on Jinder Mahal, AJ Styles hits a Phenomenal Forearm on Kevin Owens, and then Nakamura hits a Kinshasa on Sami to win the match. I wasn’t kidding you, they just did the same house show. Which is … fine? At least they didn’t give me anything to get pissed about.
And that’s the entire show. I know you want more jokes and funny situations, but that’s everything. If you want to laugh more, scroll back up and watch Rusev stomp a mudhole in a pancake.
Best: Top 10 Comments Of The Week
Dolph: “I’ve won a match before. I have this tape to prove it”
Randy: “ref, you can’t toss the Singh Brothers, that’s my thing”
Baron Von Raschke
Rusev in a ‘Santa with Muscles’ remake!
The Real Birdman
I hope they cut to one of the Singhs wearing the US Title
AJ: “Remember our 5 star match at Wrestle Kingdom?”
Nak: “Oh yeah, one of the best matches ever”
*Both look at Orton*
Orton: “I had a match at WrestleMania with pictures of bugs on the ring”
Dolph took the phrase “drop the title before you leave the company” a bit literally.
An opera singer dressed in a snowman onesie, spraying whipped cream on pancakes, while a shirtless, Eastern Bloc Santa yells “MORE! MORE!” in the background.
Truly, wrestling is the purest expression of holiday spirit.
Ja Gi Kyung-Moon
People here keep talking about who will run and grab the title, but clearly the only sensible option is for Drew Gulak to jump shows and campaign to be elected as the Smackdown US Champion.
Natalya AND Dolph “retire?” Happy Rusev Day, indeed!
Liv Morgan: “I too am gonna enter the Summer Slam!”
That’s it for this week. Thanks for reading. If you don’t enjoy these holiday episodes or you’re having a bad time in your personal life, just remember: it could be worse. You could be Damien Sandow dressed as “Bad Santa” getting his head shoved into a toilet.
Or you could be watching it!
We’ll be back next week in one form or another, so drop a comment in our comments section below and share the Best and Worst columns so we keep doing them, even when we should be relaxing and eating game meat with our families.