Welcome to special live edition of The John Report as I review the special “Super Smackdown Live” show that is airing live on USA Network in the US and elsewhere tonight. It’s part of WWE Week on USA Network, so I figured it would be a good chance to review another live show for the second night in a row. While I’m not the regular Smackdown reviewer, I know our regular Smackdown guy Jake Draper hasn’t been reviewing things as often of late and can’t do it this week, so I’m happy to fill in.
Two title matches have been announced: The New Day defends the Tag Team Titles against the Lucha Dragons while Dean Ambrose defends the Intercontinental Title against Dolph Ziggler and Kevin Owens in a triple threat match. Both matches sound awesome, so I’m happy to be here writing about it live.
Live from Des Moines, Iowa this is a special edition of The John Report reviewing Smackdown. Follow me on Twitter @johnreport as well. Let’s get to it.
The New Day begins the show walking out with their Tag Team Titles. They did a short promo that involved them singing: “We wish you a booty Christmas and a happy new day.” Time for the tag team title match against Lucha Dragons. They showed the huge ladder spot Kalisto did at TLC that led to him winning a Slammy Award.
The announce team for the show is Michael Cole, Jerry Lawler and Booker T. I’m not sure why they felt like Cole had to be there instead of Rich Brennan, but WWE loves Cole.
Tag Team Titles: The New Day’s Big E & Kofi Kingston (w/Xavier Woods) vs. Lucha Dragons
The faces were in control for the first few minutes, but then the numbers game took over and with one of the Lucha Dragons on the floor (I missed who it was due to a phone call) they went to break.
Back from break, I’m finally settled in and Big E just missed a huge splash on Sin Cara. Kalisto made the hot tag against Kingston and unleashed some kicks on him as well as a corkscrew plancha. Woods caused a distraction, which sent Kalisto the floor as Kalisto became the face in peril. Big E picked up Kalisto outside the ring and drove him back first into the barricade. The New Day did their “unicorn stampede” stomp on Kalisto in the corner. Woods played the trombone while holding onto a Christmas present. Kalisto broke three and Sin Cara was on fire as he hit a moonsault on Big E for two. Kingston broke up the pin. The Dragons hit dives at the same time on Kingston and E although it looked like Sin Cara didn’t really connect with Kingston. That looked painful. Kingston was grabbing his left knee too although it could just be selling. Sin Cara made a tag and kicked Big E. Kalisto hit Salida del Sol on Big E. Sin Cara tried to capitalize, but Kingston distracted him on the apron. Woods also caused a distraction, which led to Big E nailing the Big Ending finisher on Sin Cara to win the match after about 15 minutes.
Winners by pinfall: The New Day
Analysis: **3/4 A good match with the champs winning clean or at least it was by pinfall. They cheated heavily, but it makes sense since they work so well together and always have the numbers game advantage. I wasn’t expecting a Tag Team Title change anyway. I’m a little worried about Kingston’s knee because it looked like more than just a guy selling a knee injury. I hope it’s nothing, but if he is hurt let’s hope it’s minor. This act is too damn good and I don’t want any of them injured.
Coming up later it’s The Usos vs. Del Rio/Rusev and the triple threat for the IC Title: Ambrose vs. Ziggler vs. Owens.
There was a shot of a Christmas party backstage with Santino and the cobra sleeve on his arm. Santino put a star on the tree. Then somebody with a red glove took the star off the tree, but we couldn’t see who it was. Probably Stardust.
Several superstars wished up Merry Christmas in pre-recorded messages: Dolph Ziggler, Charlotte, Tyler Breeze and Roman Reigns.
The lovely Renee Young interviewed her favorite wrestler (and boyfriend) Dean Ambrose, who is the IC Champion. He added that he had six staples in his head after Raw. He was saying metaphors about beating both guys. Ambrose said he’s going to throw punches, kicks, elbows and not stop until he leaves as the IC Champion. He knows that Owens will throw his hissy fits and Ziggler wants to be IC Champion, but tonight is not the night. It’s not a metaphor, it’s a fact.
Analysis: Good promo by Ambrose, who is one of the five best talkers in WWE. He just doesn’t get to talk as often as I’d like him to.
There were entrances for the eight guys set for a big tag match.
The Wyatt Family (Bray Wyatt, Erick Rowan, Luke Harper & Braun Strowman) vs. The Dudley Boyz, Ryback & Kane
The Dudleys worked together on Rowan early on. The match went to break about one minute into it.
Back from break, Harper tripped up Bubba as the heels have isolated Bubba. Harper wasn’t able to control him since Bubba broke free a bit and gave him a back body drop. Strowman tagged in for the first time calling for Kane. They brawled it out in the center of the ring with Kane gaining control after an attack in the corner. Strowman took him down with a clothesline after a Harper distraction. There were quick tags from the heels as they worked over Kane. Harper fell victim to a DDT by Kane, which led to Kane tagging in Ryback against Harper. Ryback nailed shoulder tackles on Harper, then a back elbow and a dropkick off the middle ropes. It wasn’t that pretty, but it worked. Huge clothesline by Ryback. He went for Shellshock, but Rowan saved Harper and then Harper nailed a Michinoku Driver for two. Wyatt nailed a running back splash as the show went to break.
Back from another break, the heels were still working on Ryback with Rowan grabbing a headlock. Ryback nailed a spinebuster on Rowan and here’s the hot tag to D-Von against Wyatt. Shoulder tackle by D-Von. The crowd isn’t that into it, so he clapped to get them going. Another shoulder tackle for him. D-Von nailed a headbutt off the top for two as Strowman made the save. Kane sent Strowman to the floor with a clothesline, but then Strowman threw Kane into the ring post. Rowan clotheslined Ryback over the barricade. Neckbreaker by the Dudleys on Wyatt gets two. Strowman grabbed D-Von off the apron and Harper kicked D-Von. That left Wyatt with Bubba and Wyatt nailed the Sister Abigail for the win after 17 minutes.
Winners by pinfall: The Wyatt Family
Analysis: **1/2 That was one of the longer TV matches you’re going to see and it was very average. They really didn’t do anything that interesting. It was just a basic tag match in front of a mostly dead crowd with the heels going over like usual. How many times have the Dudleys put over the Wyatt Family? That’s why the crowd didn’t care because we’ve seen it so many times. None of these guys have any storyline direction at this point, so it didn’t mean a whole lot either.
There was a scene backstage with Santino wondering what happened to his decoration. Stardust showed up with The Ascension to talk trash. Neville told them not to do things like wreck decorations at Christmas. Titus O’Neil showed up to back up Neville. Stardust said this
Analysis: This was a bad segment. So cheesy with awful lines that made me cringe. At one point O’Neil said he’ll put a boot down their chimney. Awful writing. Another tag match? This is a tag match heavy show so far and they are adding another one.
Up next is…you guessed it…a tag match as The Usos face off with Alberto Del Rio and Rusev.
The League of Nations entered. A video aired of their attack on The Usos on Raw. A video did not air of them getting their asses kicked and retreating against Roman Reigns. That’s called being selective, my friends.
Alberto Del Rio & Rusev (w/Sheamus & King Barrett) vs. The Usos
The Usos weren’t selling the attack from Raw. They were aggressive early on, but then Del Rio nailed a kick to Jey’s back to slow him down. Booker kept talking about how he trained The Usos early in their career and knew they’d be great. Lots of quick tags from the heels. No sign of Lana with Rusev, by the way. Usos started a comeback with a double flapjack for two. Jimmy was in there for his team as he hit a dropkick to send Rusev out of the ring. Del Rio missed an attack, so he was on the floor and Jey took him out with a dive. Jimmy nailed Rusev with a dive over the top to knock him down. With Jimmy on the apron, Rusev nailed a kick to the head that sent Jimmy to the floor and the show went to break.
Back from break, Jimmy was still in trouble until he finally broke free and brought in brother Jey. That led to Jey nailing a running butt splash on Del Rio in the corner. Jimmy went after Rusev, but Rusev ended up shoving Jimmy back first into the steel steps. Jey went for a superplex on Del Rio, which led to the predictable spot with Del Rio knocking him down and it was a bad spot for Jey. Barrett distracted the ref, which led to Rusev kicking Jey and Del Rio hit the double foot stomp on Jey to win the match after about ten minutes.
Winners by pinfall: Rusev & Alberto Del Rio
Analysis: ** A good match that was flat at times, but the finish was well done even though it was so obvious. It was another win for a heel team that had the numbers game advantage. I get why they booked it that way, but it was pretty much a carbon copy of the Usos win earlier in the show. They should have thought about putting The Usos over as a way to give them some momentum, but instead it’s another heel win. There’s nothing wrong with it. It just isn’t exciting in any way.
Post match, the heels went after The Usos until Roman Reigns showed up. Reigns threw Sheamus over the announce table, then he nailed Del Rio with a Superman Punch, Rusev ate a superkick from the Usos and then Reigns hit a Superman Punch on Rusev as well. The heels retreated.
Analysis: Just like on Raw, Reigns had no problem taking care of the heel stable that isn’t that dominant despite what the announcers say. It was noticeable that Barrett didn’t bump again just like on Raw. He has some minor injury and he must not be cleared for action, but he’s still out there supporting his buddies.
There were more holiday greetings from WWE personnel like Dean Ambrose, Santino, Becky Lynch and The New Day.
Santino did an introduction for “Santino’s Little Helpers” Titus O’Neil and Neville. He did funny introductions followed by his power walk.
Titus O’Neil & Neville (w/Santino) vs. The Ascension (w/Stardust)
The Ascension worked over Neville early on. Then Viktor missed some elbow drops and O’Neil tagged in to clean house. Viktor nailed O’Neil with a kick to knock him down. Santino was cornered by the three heels outside the ring. Santino used the Cobra sleeve to wipe sweat off his face. While all that was going on, Neville ran the ropes and hit a dive over the top. The crowd didn’t care. O’Neil with a boot to Viktor. Neville tagged in and hit the Red Arrow for the win after two minutes. Cole on commentary: “Christmas is saved.” So bad.
Winners by pinfall: Titus O’Neil & Neville
Analysis: * It was just a squash match to put over the faces. Not much to it. There was a mild pop for the Red Arrow, but the crowd really didn’t care much at all. I can’t say I blame them.
They showed clips of last week’s Smackdown as a way to build to the IC Title match.
Ziggler did an interview with Renee Young. He said the IC Title is special because it’s the first title he won on his own. He said he’s going to win the IC Title and make 2016 the year of Dolph Ziggler.
Analysis: He’s not winning. Good promo, though.
Charlotte vs. Brie Bella
Charlotte was wearing some Christmas gear. Her Divas Title is not on the line. Becky Lynch was on commentary for this match. Charlotte was in control early on, then Brie made her comeback, she yelled “Brie Mode” and nobody cared. Brie hit a running knee attack followed by a missile dropkick off the top rope. The only thing the crowd cared about was chanting “yes” for Brie’s kicks. That’s a Daniel Bryan chant, not a Brie chant. Sasha Banks’ song started up as the Team BAD trio made their way down to the ring in Christmas outfits. Naomi dumped a drink on Lynch – it looked like eggnog. Lynch took down Naomi. The heels worked over Lynch while Charlotte watched it happen. Charlotte applied the Figure Eight on Brie and Brie tapped out. Cole was yelling about how Charlotte didn’t help her. Team BAD left after the match was over. It was about three minutes.
Winner by submission: Charlotte
Analysis: * A short match with Brie drawing no reaction and nobody caring about what she did out there. It was about the story with Charlotte not helping Lynch. The announcers complaining about how Charlotte didn’t help her friend is stupid. She’s in a match and she won. Helping her friend isn’t a big deal. I know the announcers did it in an over the top way to drive the story of Charlotte being selfish. I just think it’s lame for storyline advancement. Why don’t the fans care about the divas matches? Because they are short and the stories suck. It’s not the fault of the women. Blame creative.
Post match, Charlotte checked on Lynch and laughed about the eggnog that was dumped on Lynch. They showed replays and then showed Lynch again, looking frustrated.
Kevin Owens was interviewed by Renee Young. He said he’s the real IC Champion and he’s going to take back his IC Title. Owens mentioned how he Powerbombed Ziggler on Raw and then last week on Smackdown he Powerbombed him there too. He said Smackdown will be the Kevin Owens Show. He told Renee she looked ridiculous in her Christmas outfit.
Dean Ambrose entered first with the IC Title.
Dolph Ziggler made his entrance and then Kevin Owens did.
Intercontinental Title: Dean Ambrose vs. Dolph Ziggler vs. Kevin Owens
The match started at about 9:45pm so they should get about 15 minutes. They did a spot on the floor where Ambrose did a double clothesline with Ziggler. Owens nailed a running senton on both of them, so he was in control. They went to break about one minute into the match.
Back from break, Owens missed a charge against Ambrose so he went to the floor and then Ziggler gave Ambrose a clothesline over the top to the floor. They brawled up the ramp because there are no countouts or disqualifications in a triple threat. Owens tossed Ziggler into the gifts and Christmas trees that were at the top of the ramp. Ziggler nailed a superkick on Owens and then tossed Owens onto some trees and presents that were off the ramp. It’s not like it was a big bump, but it looked good visually in terms of a guy crashing into the trees. Back in the ring, Ambrose got a two count on Ziggler.
Ambrose went up top, Ziggler went up after him, Owens put Ziggler on his shoulders and all three guys got in shots as Ziggler hit a superkick on Ambrose, Owens hit a superkick on Ziggler and Ambrose hit Owens with a clothesline. Ambrose went up top again, so Ziggler went after him and nailed a top rope X-Factor for a two count that Owens broke up. Owens tossed Ziggler into the steps, so Owens covered Ambrose for two. Owens with a clothesline on Ambrose and Ziggler applied a sleeper on Owens. With Ziggler on his back, Owens ran towards Ambrose and dropped Ziggler onto him. Cool spot right there. Ziggler went shoulder first into the ring post. Owens focused on Ambrose with a release suplex that sent Ambrose right on his head for a two count. They showed the replay of the bump and it looked like Ambrose landed on the top of his head. The ref Mike Chioda checked on Ambrose to see if he was okay. As that was going on, Owens gave Ziggler a fallaway slam into the barricade at ringside.
They did a huge spot where Ambrose went for Dirty Deeds on Owens, but as he was about to do it, Ziggler nailed Ambrose with a Zig Zag. It was as if they did two finishers at the same time. That looked really cool. Ziggler got a two count on Ambrose. The fans were chanting “this is awesome” for it. Ziggler with a superkick on Owens. Then he went towards Ambrose and Ambrose nailed the Dirty Deeds DDT on Ziggler for the win. The match went 13 minutes.
Winner by pinfall: Dean Ambrose
Analysis: ***1/2 A great match with three of the best in-ring performers in WWE putting on a very entertaining triple threat match with a lot of exciting nearfalls and a satisfying ending. While I’m sure fans of Ziggler will bitch about him losing again, that was the best choice. Owens is a heel on the rise that shouldn’t be pinned that often. Ziggler can lose and he’ll be alright. I’m glad that Ambrose won clean because that’s the kind of thing that they need to do with ALL titles where champions find a way to retain. There were some fun spots in the match also where they did some bumps around the trees and presents at the top of the ramp. They also did a much better job of making the crowd care, which made it different from the other matches. A quality main event match is always the best way to end a show. Nice job by all three guys.
The show ended with Ambrose celebrating with the IC Title. The show went off the air right before 10pmET. A two hour show! I love that.
Analysis: A happy ending to another WWE show. That’s happened a lot the last few weeks. I hope Ambrose is okay after that nasty bump on his head.
Three Stars of the Show
1. Dean Ambrose
2. Dolph Ziggler
3. Kevin Owens
Call it a 5 out of 10 show.
The main event was great, so check that out if you missed out. Nothing else was memorable.
It was a wrestling heavy show that was so flat because the matches were either repeats of stuff we’ve seen so many times before or so predictable that it was hard to be interested in any of them. The crowd didn’t care about 80% of it, but they certainly picked up for the main event at least.
Why book so many tag matches? We know that every tag match has the same formula. Doing four tags on the same show is way too many.
I thought the divas match and segment were poor. I’d love to praise them for their great work, but they are hut so much by the awful booking. Just let them wrestle. Keep the storylines simple.
Thanks to the awesome main event for saving the show in a lot of ways because it was pretty boring otherwise.
Thanks for reading. Have a Merry Christmas if you celebrate. I’m going to see some family that are in from out of town, I’ll drink a lot, eat a lot and play cards a lot. I’ll also take a break from writing at least a bit although the Johnny Awards will be posted next Monday. Until then, be safe and enjoy it.
John Canton –firstname.lastname@example.org