Date: December 19, 2017
Location: Prudential Center in Newark, NJ
The Big Takeaway --
Daniel Bryan and Shane McMahon had a somewhat tense verbal debate where Bryan told Shane to fire him if his vision for SmackDown has suddenly changed. Shane did not fire Bryan, but the storyline continues. In the main event, Shinsuke Nakamura, AJ Styles and Randy Orton beat Sami Zayn, Kevin Owens and Jinder Mahal.
Naomi and Charlotte pretty easily handed the Riott Squad their first loss as a team after defeating the duo of Sarah Logan and Ruby Riott. Naomi is officially the first woman to declare herself an entrant in next month’s women’s Royal Rumble.
Dolph Ziggler seemingly walked out on the brand after leaving his US Title in the ring in a segment that received virtually no reaction from the crowd.
The Bludgeon Brothers, Breezango, Mojo Rawley, Zack Ryder, Natalya, Bobby Roode and Baron Corbin were among those not on tonight’s show.
Show Recap --
Daniel Bryan came out to a huge reaction to kick things off. Bryan announced the first-ever women’s Royal Rumble match, which brought a Yes chant, and said it would be a turning point in WWE history. Bryan also announced tonight’s six-man tag match, and that brought out Shane McMahon.
Shane got a mixed reaction. Shane said the women’s Rumble would be amazing, but moved on to Clash of Champions. Shane recalled Randy Orton hitting the most beautiful RKO on Sami Zayn (the crowd booed) and he smiled as he counted the fall, but before he could count three, Bryan fell on top of him. Shane knew now that it was just an accident.
Shane said when Zayn had Orton pinned, he stopped counting after recalling everything that had happened the last few months. He then brought up how quickly Bryan counted the fall for Zayn and wanted to know what he was thinking. Bryan said he was protecting Shane from himself and the crowd chanted, “Thank you, Daniel.”
Shane said he didn’t need Bryan’s protection, but Bryan told him he did. Bryan called him a hot-head (again) and explained that he took this job because they had a shared vision for the land of opportunity for everyone--not just people that Shane liked.
Shane warned Bryan that Owens and Zayn would stab him in the back as soon as they didn’t need him. Shane reiterated the warning from a business standpoint. Bryan didn’t like hearing “business standpoint” and recalled fighting against what’s “best for business.” He said if Shane had a different vision and he wanted to fire someone, he should fire Bryan.
The crowd chanted “No.” Bryan said he didn’t want Shane to turn into Mr. McMahon. Shane looked Bryan in the eye as if he was about to fire him, but instead wished him luck on the show tonight. They shook hands before Shane left.
Non-title match: Chad Gable & Shelton Benjamin defeated Tag Team Champions The Usos (7:42)
They went to commercial 90 seconds into the match, then got to the hot tags right after the break. An Uso tried a suicide dive but Benjamin had a great counter where he leaped onto the apron for leverage and nailed a kick to the face. Eventually, Gable did the O’Conner roll Germans to each Uso. This led to Gable and Benjamin hitting their powerbomb/flying clothesline combo finisher for the pinfall win.
Charlotte Flair came out to the ring and they aired a dramatic video package of Stephanie McMahon’s announcement of the women's Royal Rumble. They also showed backstage reactions from Nia Jax, Bayley, Sasha Banks, Asuka, and Alexa Bliss, as well as tweets from Triple H, Beth Phoenix, Lita, and the Bellas.
Charlotte said the video package gave her chills. She said the women can do anything, but gave the fans the credit for speaking out. She congratulated the fans and the women’s roster. Charlotte would await the winner of that Rumble for a match at WrestleMania.
Naomi came out to continue the men’s tradition of simply declaring herself an entrant in the Rumble match. The Riott Squad came out next. Naomi called them three stooges who wouldn’t be entering the Rumble. She explained they couldn’t jump people from behind at the Rumble and it would be every woman for herself.
She called them chicken heads and said they’ve been able to fend off all of their attacks so far. The crowd chanted “chicken heads.” Naomi challenged them to a tag match.
Women’s Champion Charlotte Flair & Naomi defeated Ruby Riott & Sarah Logan (w/Liv Morgan)
Naomi made a hot tag and hit a Disaster kick on Logan but Ruby broke up the cover. After Charlotte took out Ruby, Naomi dodged a charge from Logan, who knocked Morgan off the apron. Naomi then hit Logan with a Rear View for the win. The match was no more than five minutes.
Backstage, The New Day walked around in ridiculous Christmas costumes. Big E shoved a pancake in some guy’s mouth and Kofi Kingston showed off their new, “Who?” t-shirts. They were stopped by Rusev and Aiden English, dressed as Santa and a snowman, and Rusev proudly showed off his Rusev Day shirt. New Day wanted one, but Rusev said no, because he only has a naughty list and everyone is on it--except English, who sang a new song:
O Rusev Day, o Rusev Day
We challenge you to a contest
O Rusev Day, o Rusev Day
You will be our next conquest
New Day accepted the challenge. Rusev grabbed their pancakes and stomped on them. This pissed off Big E, who said Rusev flapped the wrong jacks. Rusev chuckled like Santa and left. This was stupid and very amusing.
Dolph Ziggler’s United States Championship Celebration
Dolph Ziggler came out and said he proved everyone wrong. He showed a clip of his US Title win over Kofi Kingston back in 2011, when he had Vickie Guerrero at his side. Ziggler then showed clips of him winning the Intercontinental title several times, followed by his MITB win and cash-in on Alberto Del Rio. The announcers emphasized how crazy the crowd went for that win.
Ziggler called himself one of the most decorated competitors in history but he’s still unappreciated. He said we don’t deserve him. He asked if the fans wanted something to remember him by, to which they didn’t react. He dropped the US Title belt and left the ring, as if he was quitting. The crowd very lightly sang the goodbye song for a few seconds. This was lame and the crowd didn’t care. It was also just an extended version of Natalya’s promo from Clash of Champions.
Backstage, Owens and Zayn gave Bryan a bottle of champagne as a thank you. Bryan said he didn’t do it for them, he did it for the fans. He gave back the bottle because he doesn’t drink.
Owens and Zayn also figured Bryan helped them because he hates Randy Orton, and they brought up everything Orton did as part of the Authority. They warned Bryan about Shane. Bryan called them delusional and told them to stop smiling or he’ll fire them himself. He told them to get ready for their match and they left.
They plugged “free agent” John Cena’s return on Raw this Monday.
Kofi Kingston & Xavier Woods (w/Big E) defeated Rusev & Aiden English (8:42)
The crowd chanted “Ru-sev Day” in the vein of “New Day rocks.” The match was all comedy. After tossing Rusev and English from the ring, New Day grabbed Santa’s bag and tossed merch into the crowd. There was also a pair of briefs with “Happy Rusev Day” written in marker, which had them perplexed. This all happened during the match. Rusev and English attacked them from behind and they went to commercial.
After the break, the crowd chanted “We want pancakes” and Big E got them to sing “Hey we want some pancakes.” Rusev and English cleared the announce table and placed a plate of pancakes on it. English covered it in whipped cream and Rusev topped it off with a single cherry. Of course, this ended up with New Day planting English into the pancakes with a flapjack. And then Woods won with a springboard elbow drop. As silly as this was, it was still pretty fun.
WWE Champion AJ Styles, Randy Orton & Shinsuke Nakamura defeated Kevin Owens, Sami Zayn & Jinder Mahal (w/Singh Brothers) (15:21)
Samir Singh attacked Nakamura so the referee tossed both Singhs from ringside. Orton gave Mahal an RKO so the Singhs ran back down and Orton gave them both a draping DDT. Styles gave Owens a Phenomenal forearm and Nakamura finished off Zayn with a Kinshasa for the win. The good guys posed, including Styles doing one of Nakamura’s poses, as the show went off the air.
Final Thoughts --
A perfectly enjoyable and easy-to-watch show. Happy Rusev Day.