– Tonight’s Christmas edition of WWE SmackDown opens up live on a tape delay from the Save Mart Center in Fresno, California. The arena is decorated for Christmas as Tom Phillips welcomes us. He’s joined by Corey Graves and Byron Saxton.
– We go right to the ring and out comes R-Truth dressed as Santa Claus. Carmella is with him and she’s dressed as an elf. Truth welcomes us and says he’s been on gift duties, with Carm-elf-a. He talks about how they had to stop by SmackDown on the way back to the North Pole. Truth gets the reindeer mixed up with the Jackson 5. Carmella interrupts Truthy Claus and calls for a dance break. Thankfully they’re interrupted by WWE Champion Daniel Bryan.
Fans boo Bryan as he heads tot he ring. Bryan accepts being here instead of with his family as the WWE Champion on Christmas but he cannot accept this farce known as Truthy Claus. Bryan reveals that this is not the real Santa Claus. Bryan tries to start a “fickle!” chant and says he will expose this Santa Claus, just as he exposed AJ Styles. Bryan goes on ranting about how people’s desires and consumption have ruined the planet, creating islands of misfit trash in the oceans. Glaciers melting, sea levels rising… Bryan goes on and says in 20 years there will be no North Pole and no Santa Claus. Fans boo. Truth says Bryan is an angry little elf. Bryan asks if this is just a joke to Truth. Bryan says Truth’s career is a joke. Truth says that may be true but Bryan better watch out because Truthy Claus is going to the Royal Rumble. Truth reminds Bryan that they have the #30 spots in the Royal Rumble, adding that maybe he will take the WWE Title from Bryan after he wins. That is, if Bryan is still the champion at WrestleMania 35.
Bryan asks how Truth expects to win the Rumble when he can’t even count to 30. Truth says he can count to 30. He starts counting and can’t get past 7 when he calls for a dance break. He starts dancing with Carmella until Bryan takes his leg out with a chop block. Bryan drags Truth over and slams his leg into the ring post a few times. Truth limps away but Bryan comes in and takes the knee out again from behind. Fans boo as Bryan talks trash to Truth. Bryan drops Truth into the Heel Hook as Carmella screams at him. Bryan lets go of the hold and poses as fans boo. Carmella checks on Truth. Bryan attacks Truth again while he’s down. Bryan applies another Hook. Bryan breaks it and raises the WWE Title as his music hits. Bryan marches to the back.
– Still to come, Mustafa Ali vs. Andrade “Cien” Almas. We go to commercial.
Mustafa Ali vs. Andrade “Cien” Almas
We go to the ring and out comes Andrade “Cien” Almas with Zelina Vega. Mustafa Ali is out next as we see how he pinned Daniel Bryan in last week’s tag team match.
The bell rings and Almas immediately nails a dropkick into the corner. Almas takes control and works Ali around the ring. Ali turns it around and goes to the second rope but Vega distracts him from the outside. Almas takes advantage and sends Ali over the top rope, out to the floor. Vega talks some trash to Ali as we go back to commercial.
Back from the break and Ali flies in at Almas, taking him down for a close 2 count. Almas counters Ali’s offense and levels him for another close pin attempt as Vega cheers him on. Almas takes Ali to the corner and goes for the tornado DDT but Ali dropkicks him. Ali climbs up for the hurricanrana but Almas takes his legs out. Almas with the big double stomp while Ali is upside down in the corner. Ali kicks out at 2.
Almas takes Ali back up top but Ali fights him off. Ali with a sunset flip powerbomb attempt but Almas lands on his feet. More back and forth now. Ali hits the big DDT and drags Almas over to the corner as Vega screams. Ali climbs up and hits the 054 for the pin to win.
Winner: Mustafa Ali
– After the match, Ali stands tall and celebrates as his music hits. Vega and Almas retreat up the ramp as Ali poses in the corner.
– Still to come, Shane McMahon on MizTV with The Miz. Also, Samoa Joe vs. Jeff Hardy.
The Usos, Karl Anderson and Luke Gallows vs. SAnitY and The Bar
We go to the ring and out come The Usos – Jimmy Uso and Jey Uso. Back to commercial.
Back from the break and we see Samoa Joe backstage. Joe taunts Jeff Hardy and says he has become Jeff’s new addiction. Joe goes on and warns Joe ahead of tonight’s match. We go back to the ring and Luke Gallows and Karl Anderson are out to team with The Usos. SAnitY is also waiting in the ring – Alexander Wolfe and Killian Dain with Eric Young. The music hits and out comes The New Day for commentary at their custom announce table. The music hits again as SmackDown Tag Team Champions The Bar are out next – Cesaro and Sheamus.
Sheamus starts off with Anderson and rams him into the corner. Jey tags in and goes at it with Cesaro. Jimmy tags in for a quick double team and goes to work on Cesaro. Dain tags in but Uso fights him off. Uso also fights off a distraction from the apron but he turns around to Dain running him over with a big shot. Dain stands over Uso and looks down at him as we go back to commercial.
Back from the break and Dain is in control of Jimmy. Uso looks to make a comeback but Dain clotheslines him. Wolfe tags in and keep Uso down. Wolfe with a standing moonsault for a 2 count. Sheamus tags in and unloads on Jimmy with forearms to the chest. Sheamus manhandles Uso a bit. Uso gets an opening with a jawbreaker but Jey gets knocked off the apron. Cesaro ends up tagging in and knocking Anderson off the apron. Dain gets knocked off their side of the ring. Gallows and Wolfe get the hot tags now.
Gallows unloads on Wolfe. Gallows also knocks Sheamus off the apron. Gallows with a big pumphandle slam for a 2 count as Din breaks it up. Anderson runs in with a neckbreaker to Dain. Cesaro and Anderson get tossed out of the ring. Sheamus tags in and nails a big knee to Gallows after Gallows sent Wolfe out of the ring. Cesaro tags in for the double team to Gallows but The Usos break the pin. The Usos deliver multiple superkicks, including one to Young on the apron. Cesaro catches Jimmy with a big pop-up uppercut. Gallows drops Cesaro. Anderson tags in for the Magic Killer on Cesaro. Anderson covers for the pin to win.
Winners: Luke Gallows, Karl Anderson and The Usos
– After the match, the winners stand tall in the ring as SAnitY retreats up the ramp with The Bar. Young talks trash back to the winners.
– The announcers lead us to the “coming soon” promos for Lars Sullivan, EC3, Tucker Knight & Otis Dozovic of Heavy Machinery, Lacey Evans and Nikki Cross. They will be coming to RAW or SmackDown soon.
– Mustafa Ali is walking backstage when The Brian Kendrick, Akira Tozawa and Cedric Alexander approach him, congratulating him. Shelton Benjamin is standing there next. He officially welcomes Ali to the SmackDown roster and they shake hands. Ali says that means a lot coming from Shelton. Daniel Bryan attacks Ali from behind and unloads on him. The cruiserweights pull Bryan off but Bryan comes right back with a big boot. Bryan pounds on Ali some more. We go to commercial with the cruiserweights checking on Ali.
– Back from the break and out comes The Miz for a special Christmas edition of MizTV. We see the World Cup trophy on display and the ring is decorated for Christmas. Miz introduces his guest and out comes Shane McMahon.
Shane takes a seat and Miz asks if Shane saw his tag team match with Mandy Rose last week. Miz asks Shane about Shane says this isn’t about the McMahons but they are listening to the fans now. Shane says new match-ups and new faces are coming. He says SmackDown has always been the land of opportunity but now the fans will be the ones to shape the narrative and create those opportunities. Miz says Shane did a great job as SmackDown Commissioner, comparing the job performance to what Baron Corbin did on RAW. Miz goes on and points out how Shane can dedicate time to his other talents, like teaming with his bestie to be the best tag team in the world, now that there are 4 McMahon family members running the shows. Miz says he proved last week that he can team with anyone and be successful. Miz asks Shane what he has to say about them teaming up. Shane won’t give in. Miz says people have been asking why he keeps wanting to team with Shane. Miz says it’s not about sucking up to Shane, this is about his dad.
Miz talks about his many WWE accomplishments and says he’s never heard his dad say he’s proud of him, not even when he main evented WrestleMania and defeated John Cena. Miz says everything he does, in the ring and out, he looks at it and wonders if that will be enough for his dad. The answer is always the same – no. Until the World Cup tournament. Miz recalls how his dad praised Shane after the tournament and told Miz to imagine teaming with Shane. Miz says for the first time he got through to his dad and he knew then that he needed to make the tag team with Shane, knowing they would be the best tag team. Miz goes on about the “new WWE” and says the decision isn’t theirs to make, it’s up to the fans. Miz stands up and asks the fans if they want to see Shane and Miz team up, the best tag team in the world. A “yes!” chant starts up but fans also chant “no!” and the fake crowd noise is bad tonight. Shane says Miz better not screw him or there will be major consequences. Shane says let’s try this. They shake hands and raise the trophy in the air together. Miz leads a “yes!” chant and says he knows Daniel Bryan doesn’t do the chant any longer but it doesn’t matter because Miz created it. Shane’s music hits as he and Miz celebrate.
– Rusev and Lana are backstage now. Rusev sings Happy Birthday to himself and goes on about bringing the WWE United States Title home tonight when he defeats Shinsuke Nakamura. It’s going to be the greatest Rusev Day ever.
– Still to come, Joe vs. Hardy.
Samoa Joe vs. Jeff Hardy
Back from the break and out comes Samoa Joe for tonight’s Grudge Match. Jeff Hardy is out next.
The bell rings and Joe takes it to the corner but Hardy gets the first offense in. Fans with an early “delete!” chant but Joe easily turns it around and drops Hardy. Joe with strikes while Hardy is down, keeping him on the mat. Hardy turns it around and sends Joe down in the corner. Hardy with the double boots to the chest while Joe is down. Hardy covers for the pin but Joe gets his foot on the bottom rope. Hardy runs the ropes but Joe jumps up and levels him with an elbow. We go to commercial with Joe in control.
Back from the break and Joe sends Hardy into the corner, then drops him with a kick to the head. Joe with a 2 count. Joe keeps Hardy in an abdominal stretch now. Joe with a 2 count. Joe takes Hardy back down and grounds him. Hardy looks to make a comeback now. Hardy with the inverted atomic drop and a few more of his signature moves. Joe still kicks out at 2.
Hardy calls for the “delete!” chant but Joe blocks a Twist of Fate. Hardy keeps going and hits a Whisper In the Wind for another close 2 count as Joe grabs the bottom rope. Hardy goes on and hits a Twist of Fate as fans pop. Hardy climbs to the top but Joe rolls to the floor. Hardy steps down to the mat and kicks Joe through the ropes. Hardy runs the apron and hits a flying clothesline to the floor.
Hardy with kicks and knees to Joe against the barrier. The referee tries to pull Hardy off but Hardy keeps the attack going. The referee calls the match.
Winner by DQ: Samoa Joe
– After the bell, Hardy keeps attacking Joe. Hardy tosses Joe over the announce table. Hardy follows but Joe catches him in the Coquina Clutch, dropping him into it behind the announce table. Officials come and break the fight up. Joe exits as his music starts up. Hardy is left face-down on the floor.
– Shinsuke Nakamura is backstage. He says Rusev asked for gold for Christmas but he’s been naughty this year so all he’s getting is a knee to the face. Still to come, Rusev vs. Nakamura with the title on the line.
– The announcers lead us to a trailer for the “Fighting With My Family” movie on Paige’s family, featuring a clip of The Rock’s cameo.
– Back from the break and The Usos are backstage. Jey goes one way and says he will see Jimmy later. Sonya Deville and Mandy Rose appear, pointing out how they’re standing under mistletoe with Jimmy. They try to get him to kiss but he’s not falling for it. Naomi shows up and tries to attack them but Jimmy gets in the way and tells her she has nothing to worry about.
WWE United States Title Match: Rusev vs. Shinsuke Nakamura
We go to the ring and out comes Rusev with Lana for tonight’s main event. WWE United States Champion Shinsuke Nakamura is out next. We get formal ring introductions from Greg Hamilton.
The bell rings and they go at it. Nakamura with some mind games coming out of the corner but Rusev unloads on him. Rusev drops Nakamura with a quick 1 count. Fans chant for Rusev as he keeps control, taking Nakamura to the opposite corner. Nakamura catches Rusev in a triangle choke out of nowhere but Rusev breaks free. Rusev regroups on the floor as Nakamura taunts him from the ring. Back to commercial.
Back from the break and Nakamura puts the boot to Rusev’s throat in the corner. Rusev finally breaks free from a hold and slams Nakamura as Lana smiles. Rusev with another slam, and another big slam for a pop. Rusev keeps control and hits a belly-to-back suplex for another close 2 count. Rusev stomps and then hits shoulder thrusts in the corner. Fans do dueling chants for both Superstars now. Nakamura turns it around and places Rusev in the corner for the high knee to the gut. Rusev kicks out at 2. Nakamura immediately covers for another pin attempt but Rusev kicks out.
Nakamura puts more boots to Rusev against the ropes. Rusev comes back but Nakamura puts him back down with a knee to the chest. Nakamura keeps Rusev grounded in the middle of the ring now. Nakamura counters a strike and takes Rusev down into an armbar. Rusev avoids the triangle and a pin attempt. Rusev ends up on the apron now. Rusev tries to suplex Nakamura out of the ring but it’s blocked. Nakamura kicks Rusev from the apron to the floor and we go back to commercial.
Back from the break and Nakamura drives knees into Rusev while he’s down. Lana looks on and cringes. Nakamura with a big knee drop for a 2 count as Rusev powers up. Nakamura keeps Rusev grounded in the middle of the ring again, wearing him down. They get up and Nakamura delivers more strikes until Rusev catches a kick. Rusev with offense now, including knees to the gut. Rusev with a big fall-away slam. Rusev with the back splash in the corner and a spin kick to drop the champ. Rusev covers for a 2 count as Lana screams from ringside.
Fans start chanting for Rusev again. Rusev with strikes and a knee to the gut. Rusev drops Nakamura with a big kick to the head but Nakamura still kicks out at 2. Rusev can’t believe it.
Nakamura rolls to the floor when he sees Rusev preparing for The Accolade. Rusev follows and keeps in control, using the ring post and the barrier. Rusev tries to toss Nakamura back into the ring but Nakamura kicks him in the head from the apron. Nakamura sends Rusev into the steel ring steps as the referee counts. Nakamura sends Rusev face-first into the announce table. Rusev is face down on the apron now. Nakamura jumps up and drops a knee to the back of the head on the apron. They bring it back in the ring and Nakamura hits the flying knee from the turnbuckles.
Nakamura waits for Rusev to get up now. Nakamura charges for the Kinshasa but Rusev meets him with a big Machka Kick. Nakamura still kicks out at 2. Lana, Rusev and the fans can’t believe it. Rusev gets hyped up as fans chant for him now. Rusev goes for The Accolade but it’s blocked again. Nakamura tries for the triangle again. He finally gets it locked in and Rusev starts fading. Rusev powers up and slams Nakamura to break free. The “Rusev Day!” chants continue as Lana encourages Rusev to get back up. Rusev charges in the corner but Nakamura moves and Rusev hits the ring post. Rusev kicks out at 2. Nakamura with a knee to the back of the head for another close pin attempt.
Fans chant “this is awesome!” now as Nakamura waits for Rusev to get up again. Rusev stumbles to his feet. Nakamura misses the Kinshasa as Rusev misses a Machka Kick. Nakamura stuns with a kick. Rusev drops Nakamura with a clothesline. Rusev gets hyped up again and delivers the Machka Kick for the pin to win the title.
Winner and New WWE United States Champion: Rusev
– After the match, Rusev takes the title as his music hits. Fans pop big as a very excited Lana enters the ring to celebrate with him. We go to replays. Fans chant “Rusev Day!” as the celebration continues. Rusev hits the corners to pose with the title.
– We go backstage to AJ Styles and Vince McMahon. Vince shakes his hand and then asks what his name is. AJ looks confused but he says he’s AJ Styles, The Phenomenal One, a two-time champ and the one who built SmackDown. Vince says if this is the house that AJ built, why didn’t he compete? Why was Daniel Bryan raising hell in AJ’s house tonight? Vince says if that’s the new Daniel Bryan, he wants to know who the real AJ Styles is. Vince has seen Superstars come and go, win their titles and earn their money, to then become complacent and go home. Vince knows that’s not AJ. Vince says he and AJ are a lot alike, believe it or not. Vince knows AJ has a black hole in his heart, a tormented soul. Vince says AJ is afraid to lose control because of what will happen. Vince says if that’s what AJ has, he wants to see it. Vince says if AJ harnesses all that, he brutalizes and will terrorize the locker room. Vince says there’s an animal inside AJ and it’s begging to get out. AJ looks confused. Vince says that animal is eating AJ alive. Vince wants to see it, oh yeah he does. Vince smacks AJ and says he’s going to see it. AJ fires back and drops Vince with a big right hand. AJ stands over Vince and growls. Officials enter the room to back AJ off. AJ has snapped and Vince loves it. Officials rush AJ out of the room. A referee asks Vince if he’s alright and Vince says he thinks he’s good. Vince lays on the floor, smiling while looking up at the ceiling. The Christmas edition of SmackDown goes off the air with Vince smiling while laying on the ground.